Many teen girls are susceptible to body insecurity. Adolescence is a period in a girl’s life when she is growing physically, emotionally, and mentally into a young woman. As she witnesses other girls changing, she may compare herself to them or the women pictured on television, movies, magazines, and social media.
This comparison gives way to body insecurity and can make even the most confident teen girl waver.
Body insecurity and teen girls
In a study through the National Organization for Women Foundation, more than half of girls aged thirteen were unhappy with their bodies. By the time these girls hit seventeen, almost 80% found themselves lacking. These numbers are a concern as teen girls are still developing and will not reach emotional maturity for a few more years, so they are unable to manage the resulting thoughts and emotions as an adult woman might.
Body insecurity does not necessarily go away once a girl hits adulthood. Many women with eating disorders began the mental disorder behaviors during their teen and young adult years. If left untreated, body insecurity combined with an eating disorder is fatal.
Signs of body insecurity
Have you been watching your teen girl’s behavior lately and feeling worried? Are you not sure if she is displaying signs of body insecurity?
Although only a mental health professional can diagnose body insecurity, body dysmorphia, and other mental conditions, you can decide if speaking to a counselor about your child is the best thing to do. You may want to speak to a counselor privately to discuss your teen girl’s behavior to see if a counseling session is merited.
The following are signs of body insecurity:
Preoccupation with one’s appearance.
Most of us remember a time when we felt less confident in our appearance. We may even go through those same emotions during major physical changes, such as pregnancy, postpartum, and menopause.
Teen girls suffering from body insecurity can become preoccupied with their appearance. You may find them taking more selfies than usual to see how they look, using filters heavily on pictures, and relying on mirrors. They may “play” with a real or imagined flaw.
Obsessing over perceived (or real) flaws.
Whether the flaws are perceived or real, a teen girl with body insecurity issues will obsess over hiding, fixing, or removing the flaw. For example, if she is embarrassed about her legs, she may never wear shorts or dresses in public. She may go out of her way to avoid social situations where she is required to wear clothing that will show her legs.
If the flaw is something that can be “fixed” by cosmetic surgery, your teen girl may beg you for it and participate in the surgery when she reaches age. However, teen and young adult women with body insecurity and poor self-esteem may not feel happy for long after the surgery.
Comparing self to others.
Television, movies, magazines, and media have always played a role in comparing oneself to others. As a society, we have practically worshiped the appearance of celebrities, athletes, and television personalities. With the invention of social media, teen girls now have an inside scoop on their favorite actors, celebrities, and influencers.
As adults, we may keep in mind that social media is typically a reflection of a perfect world. Social media is used to highlight the best that is going on in life. Many people, especially celebrities and influencers use heavily filtered and edited images and videos.
However, teen girls may not realize this. If they do, viewing “perfect” bodies can leave them feeling depressed about their bodies. You may notice that your teen girl seems to compare herself to famous people or peers.
Asking for validation about appearance.
That obsession with having the “perfect” appearance may spill over into your teen’s relationships with others. Does she constantly ask you if she looks pretty? Does it seem like she is fishing for compliments? When you assure her that she is beautiful, does she seem not to believe you?
Asking for validation when it comes to appearance is a sign of body insecurity. Most people will ask someone they are close to if they look good for an event, but if your teen seems to be obsessing, even refusing to attend social events because of second-guessing her appearance, this could be the symptom of a much larger issue.
What you can do
If you suspect your teen of struggling with body insecurity issues or body dysmorphia, reach out to a counselor at Irvine Christian Counseling today. Body insecurity can lead to other mental health conditions, including eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.
Contact our office at Irvine Christian Counseling today to schedule an appointment with a Christian counselor in Irvine, California specializing in recovery from poor body image.
“Studying”, Courtesy of Getty Images, Unsplash.com, Unsplash+ License; “Friends”, Courtesy of Priscilla Du Preez, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Counseling”, Courtesy of Andrej Lisakov, Unsplash.com, CC0 License