High school is undoubtedly one of the most transformative periods in a young person's life. From navigating friendships and academics to discerning personal passions, it's a time filled with growth and self-discovery. However, it's also a time where body image concerns can cause stress for many teens, particularly teen girls. Body image is often affected by family, friends, and social pressure. Social media, glossy magazines and the entertainment industry frequently project an idealized version of beauty that doesn't reflect the diverse spectrum of body shapes and sizes. In a world saturated with unrealistic beauty standards, embracing body positivity becomes a crucial aspect of cultivating a healthy self-esteem.
The research is concerning. The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders has found that 58% of college-aged girls feel pressured to be a certain weigh. Ninety-five percent of people with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25. Other data shows that roughly 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies when in reality, only 5% of women naturally possess the body type often portrayed by Americans in the media.
Developing a positive body image is not easy. In “Practicing Self-Love – The Importance of Embracing Body Imperfections” the writer describes it as “a long, hectic journey, but unapologetically rewarding.”
Here are some tips for embracing body positivity:
Embrace Your Uniqueness:
High school is a time when you're discovering your identity, and part of that is embracing what makes you unique. Your body is a canvas that tells the story of your individuality. Instead of comparing yourself to others, celebrate the aspects that set you apart. Whether it's your height, the shape of your eyes, or the way you laugh, these distinctive qualities are what make you beautiful.
Focus on Health, Not Size:
Body positivity doesn't mean ignoring your health; it's about shifting the focus from achieving a particular size to adopting healthy habits. Engage in activities that make you feel good physically and mentally, such as regular exercise, nutritious meals, and sufficient sleep. When you prioritize your well-being, you'll find that your body naturally settles into its unique and healthy shape.
Build a Support System:
Navigating high school can be challenging, and having a support system is crucial. At Merion Mercy Academy, students are part of a sisterhood that uplifts and empowers one another. Students are encouraged to share their thoughts and feelings with those they trust, and seek guidance from our counselor if needed. Building a strong support system can significantly contribute to a positive self-image.
Challenge Negative Thoughts:
Negative thoughts about your body can be insidious, but it's essential to challenge them. When you catch yourself thinking negatively, ask yourself if those thoughts are based on unrealistic standards or societal expectations. Replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations and remind yourself of your strengths and accomplishments.
High school is a time of self-discovery, and along the way, you may face setbacks and challenges. It's crucial to treat yourself with the same kindness and compassion you would offer a friend. Remember that nobody is perfect, and everyone has their insecurities. Be patient with yourself as you navigate the ups and downs of adolescence.
Curate a Positive Media Diet:
The media we consume can significantly impact our self-perception. Take control of your media intake by following accounts that promote body positivity, diversity, and inclusivity. Unfollow or mute accounts that perpetuate unrealistic beauty standards or make you feel inadequate. Surrounding yourself with positive influences can foster a healthier self-image.
Embracing body positivity in high school is a journey that requires self-reflection, resilience, and a commitment to self-love. By understanding the societal influences that shape our perceptions, focusing on health rather than size, building a supportive network, challenging negative thoughts, practicing self-compassion, and curating a positive media diet, you can foster a positive relationship with your body. Remember, you are unique, deserving of love and respect just as you are. Embrace your individuality, celebrate your strengths, and prioritize your well-being on the journey to loving yourself in high school and beyond.