You want to be healthy, happy and able to face the day with a smile on your face – but the media never makes it easy for you.
Besieged by idealized body types and unrealistic aspirational figures, most people feel ugly, no matter what their actual appearance.
In part, this is thanks to celebrity magazines like Hello! and OK! Magazine. Their eye-poppingly offensive headlines criticize celebrities for their cellulite or harangue them for their “cankles”, as though gaining a few pounds over the winter season was a crime worthy of the Hague.
The appearance of most celebrities (women, in particular) is scrutinized more than their talent, while what they wear on the red carpet is viewed as more important than the event they’re attending. These people look virtually perfect, yet even they seem like failures when placed under the media’s microscope.
And it’s making people feel as though they’ll never achieve their ideal figure. The malleable minds of teenagers, in particular, suffer from overexposure to unrealistic body representations.
In extreme cases, this insecurity can lead to something far more serious – body dysmorphia.
Real body paranoia
Body dysmorphia is a mental illness in which the sufferer believes they are irreparably ugly, no matter what their weight or general appearance. This illness can lead to extreme outcomes, from anorexia to major cosmetic surgery overhauls or, in worst-case scenarios, self-harm.
2.4 per cent of the UK population suffer from Body Dysmorphia, and it’s gaining an increasing prominence in the media. In a society fixated on beauty, the illness has become a symbol of the dangers in our quest to look good.
Chances are you’re a concerned parent reading this, so we’ve got a few tips to help you discover if your teenager is struggling with body issues, and how you can help them.
How you can help
First off, don’t worry too much about a teenager’s general discomfort about how they look. Remember when you were their age? You probably pruned and preened in front of the mirror for hours, but you turned out alright.
Have the same level of empathy for your child as your parent had for you. Provide them with mineral makeup or specialist moisturizer, if they ask you, and be openly complimentary about their appearance.
However, don’t be pushy or interrogatory. An overly worried parent runs the risk of pushing their child away. Gentle nudges about how they’re feeling is enough.
Although the appeal of celeb rags might be insatiable to you, leaving them around for your teenager to read might not be the best idea. Hide them away and try not to be offensive about the appearance of others.
With these soft strategies in place, you’ll be able to communicate with your teen more easily about the beauty industry and any insecurities they might have.
We live in a world where beauty is seen as a treasure to be hoarded. Don’t let your teen be corrupted by it.
Photo by Fixers on Flickr – Some Rights Reserved
Guest Author Bio
Kevin Fullerton is a travel fanatic with a thirst for the finer things in life. He is an English & Film graduate who lives on a diet of films, music, writing, books; and boring people with chatter about films, music, writing and books.
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