I'm fat. I'm too skinny. I'd be happy if I were taller, shorter, had
curly hair, straight hair, a smaller nose, bigger muscles, longer legs.
Do any of these statements sound familiar? Are you used to putting
yourself down? If so, you're not alone. As a teen, you're going through
a ton of changes in your body. And as your body changes, so does your
image of yourself. Lots of people have trouble adjusting, and this can
affect their self-esteem.
Why Are Self-Esteem and Body Image Important?
Self-esteem is all about how much people value themselves, the pride
they feel in themselves, and how worthwhile they feel. Self-esteem is
important because feeling good about yourself can affect how you act. A
person who has high self-esteem will make friends easily, is more in
control of his or her behavior, and will enjoy life more.
Body image is how someone feels about his or her own physical appearance.
For many people, especially those in their early teens, body image can
be closely linked to self-esteem. That's because as kids develop into
teens, they care more about how others see them.
What Influences a Person's Self-Esteem?
Some teens struggle with their self-esteem when they begin puberty
because the body goes through many changes. These changes, combined
with a natural desire to feel accepted, mean it can be tempting for
people to compare themselves with others. They may compare themselves
with the people around them or with actors and celebs they see on TV,
in movies, or in magazines.
But it's impossible to measure ourselves against others because the
changes that come with puberty are different for everyone. Some people
start developing early; others are late bloomers. Some get a temporary
layer of fat to prepare for a growth spurt, others fill out
permanently, and others feel like they stay skinny no matter how much
they eat. It all depends on how our genes have programmed our bodies to
The changes that come with puberty can affect how both girls
and guys feel about themselves. Some girls may feel uncomfortable or
embarrassed about their maturing bodies. Others may wish that they were
developing faster. Girls may feel pressure to be thin but guys may feel
like they don't look big or muscular enough.
It's not just development that affects self-esteem, though. Many other
factors (like media images of skinny girls and bulked-up guys) can
affect a person's body image too.
Family life can sometimes influence self-esteem. Some parents spend
more time criticizing their kids and the way they look than praising
them, which can reduce kids' ability to develop good self-esteem.
People also may experience negative comments and hurtful teasing about
the way they look from classmates and peers. Sometimes racial and
ethnic prejudice is the source of such comments. Although these often
come from ignorance, sometimes they can affect someone's body image and
If you have a positive body image, you probably like and accept
yourself the way you are. This healthy attitude allows you to explore
other aspects of growing up, such as developing good friendships,
growing more independent from your parents, and challenging yourself
physically and mentally. Developing these parts of yourself can help
boost your self-esteem.
A positive, optimistic attitude can help people develop strong
self-esteem — for example, saying, "Hey, I'm human" instead of "Wow,
I'm such a loser" when you've made a mistake, or not blaming others
when things don't go as expected.
Knowing what makes you
happy and how to meet your goals can help you feel capable, strong, and
in control of your life. A positive attitude and a healthy lifestyle
(such as exercising and eating right) are a great combination for
building good self-esteem.
Tips for Improving Your Body Image
Some people think they need to change how they look or act to feel good
about themselves. But actually all you need to do is change the way you
see your body and how you think about yourself.
The first thing to do is recognize that your body is your own, no
matter what shape, size, or color it comes in. If you're very worried
about your weight or size, check with your doctor to verify that things
are OK. But it's no one's business but your own what your body is like
— ultimately, you have to be happy with yourself.
Next, identify which aspects of your appearance you can realistically
change and which you can't. Everyone (even the most perfect-seeming
celeb) has things about themselves that they can't change and need to
accept — like their height, for example, or their shoe size.
If there are things about yourself that you want to change and can
(such as how fit you are), do this by making goals for yourself. For
example, if you want to get fit, make a plan to exercise every day and
eat nutritious foods. Then keep track of your progress until you reach
your goal. Meeting a challenge you set for yourself is a great way to
When you hear negative comments
coming from within yourself, tell yourself to stop. Try building your
self-esteem by giving yourself three compliments every day. While
you're at it, every evening list three things in your day that really
gave you pleasure. It can be anything from the way the sun felt on your
face, the sound of your favorite band, or the way someone laughed at
your jokes. By focusing on the good things you do and the positive
aspects of your life, you can change how you feel about yourself.
Where Can I Go if I Need Help?
Sometimes low self-esteem and body image problems are too much to
handle alone. A few teens may become depressed, lose interest in
activities or friends — and even hurt themselves or resort to alcohol
or drug abuse.
If you're feeling this way, it can help to talk to a parent, coach,
religious leader, guidance counselor, therapist, or an adult friend. A
trusted adult — someone who supports you and doesn't bring you down —
can help you put your body image in perspective and give you positive
feedback about your body, your skills, and your abilities.
If you can't turn to anyone you know, call a teen crisis hotline (check
the yellow pages under social services or search online). The most
important thing is to get help if you feel like your body image and
self-esteem are affecting your life.
Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: May 2009
Hey, I’m Adam
Visit us on Facebook! or email me
“We’ve created a place on the internet for you to ask the questions
you’ve always wanted to ask. So take a look around, then let us know
what you think about it. You might make a really good point about
something, then see what others think about it as well. It’s getting
involved, and sharing ideas about all kinds of subjects.”
I'm Adam. I joined this web site because I really appreciate what In
Search of Me Cafe is trying to do. When I was faced with tough choices
I never really had a lot of people to talk to. Often I was embarrassed
asking for advice on awkward stuff from my friends and family. I think
if there had been an In Search of Me Cafe when I was making tough
decisions it would have really helped me.
enough about why I like this site so much. I have always liked to party
and I love chillin’ with my friends. Obviously partying can lead to
some tough life choices; I had my first alcoholic drink when I was 13.
That may seem pretty young but I grew up in Europe where the legal age
was 16. Yes I know... that’s still underage.
I was underage. It’s easy to drink when your friends drink. Needless to
say, from the first drink till now, I have experienced a lot. Partying
was probably the best tool in learning about me which may seem strange
but I really learned a lot about how I treat my friends and
relationships, how I trust …you name it. Good times and bad I have
gained valuable life lessons. If you ever need to talk about stuff or
you have a question you’re burning to ask or if you just wanna share
stories. Go ahead and holler. I won’t judge and it’s pretty hard to
faze me. I’ll give you my honest opinion and you never know, you may
have an experience that’ll teach me some things too.
Hey, I’m Taran
Visit us on Facebook! or email me
“Every teen has to face the same type of problems and try to figure out who they are. This is a place where you can do that.”
Hey, I’m Maddie
Visit us on Facebook! or email me
“Up until this year I was picked on a lot and it really brings down
your self esteem. Kids don't think about how they're really affecting
other people with their words and eventually the other kids' self
esteem goes down and down and they start to believe what the bullies
are saying. After a while you just start to give up and think, ‘Oh,
what's the point. I suck anyway’ and your grades and everything else
Hey, I’m Chelsi.
Visit me us Facebook! or email me
Each morning I see in my mind what I’m working hard to obtain. I
know I can achieve anything I set my mind on by putting in the time
& effort needed. I believe one can learn from every experience. I
like to ‘take the best and leave the rest’!“
a rule I don’t like talking about myself. However, I want you to know
a little about me, the “teen” likely not much different than you and
thinking a lot of the same things and having similar questions etc.
I try to treat everyone with respect and kindness, just as I would
hope to be treated! Hopefully I can help answer questions you may have
or concerns you don’t want to discuss with an adult… you know
Here’s a bit of what I like to do…. I love
hanging with my friends at the movies or the mall, and staying in with
my family. I love music, sometimes when I’m upset or “heartbroken” I go
in my room and just listen to music. It just lets me cool off and just
not have to think.
Although I’m only 13 on paper, I’m
told I’m much wiser than my years. If there is a problem, I am the
first person anyone calls. I may be nice but, if someone hurts anyone I
know (whether I like ya or not) they are in trouble… haha. They call me
“the haha queen” because I can make any situation funny.
hope after hearing this little bit “about me” you want to ask me your
questions, and if you just want to chat, I’d love to. I like meeting
“And it's now, now or never when we're chasing our dreams.” -Mercy Mercedes
“I'd like to make myself believe that planet Earth turns slowly.” -Owl City
“Do you know what's worth fighting for? When it's not worth dying for?” –Green Day
What my friends have to say About me - Chelsi♥ ……
like talking to you because you can always make me feel good about
myself and make me happy no matter what. I like you as a person because
you really are a great friend and I thank you for being there for me,
and you’re just fun to be with.” -Jessie
hard.. To put into words.. The uncanny ability you have to put a smile
on my face and that’s just online, from reading the nearly poetic
replies. Where as over the phones it’s near impossible to explain the
warmth that washes over me when I hear your voice. For some reason when
I heard you for the first time. Chelsi you inspired my first poem I wrote … -Sean
Hey, I’m Brittany
Visit us on Facebook! or email me
“When people go to parties just to hang out, other people come and
bring drinks or cigarettes, and try to get you to do it. They keep
trying and trying to get you to drink or smoke, and you might be
tempted do it because you want to be known as a cool person.”
Hey, I’m Trent
“I have cousins my same age and younger who are Haitian and Filipino,
which allows me to connect with other cultures. Even with different
styles and different issues, these other teenagers still have some of
the same dramas we have here in America, such as peer pressure.” Hey, I’m Trent
Hey, I’m Forrest
“You can post video blogs on this site -- voice your opinions about
topics here as well as responses to what others are saying in their
blogs. So it kinda builds upon itself.”
Hey, I’m Connor
Hi, I’m Connor Cottle. I’m 17 and a junior at Fernandina Beach
High School in northeast Florida. As an only child, my friends are
really important to me, so I’m either hanging out with them or texting
them when we’re apart.
I spend my free time on the tennis court, the golf course, and at the beach. I volunteer
frequently around my community and enjoy every minute of it.
am also the Lead Youth Advisor of the In Search of Me Café program and
I’m involved because I like how connecting teens all over the world can
help them help themselves.
I’m always around if you need any advice or if you just want to hang out.
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