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6 Ways Teens Can Improve Their Body Image and Self-esteem

Having a healthy relationship with your body is important. When you feel good about who you are, you’re more likely to take care of yourself. Here are some tips for cultivating a healthy body image and self-esteem.

What is Your Body Image?

Your body image is:

  • How you feel in your body.
  • Your sense of control over your body in your everyday activities.
  • How you believe others perceive your body.
  • Whether or not you think your body is “good” enough.

Many things can affect how you feel about your body, including:

  • Messages you get from your family and friends.
  • Social media posts, TV shows, magazines, advertisements, movies and commercials.

Unfortunately, many companies—particularly those in the fashion, beauty, diet and fitness industries—make their money by convincing people that they aren’t good enough and need to buy their products to look better. These industries make a lot of money by targeting people’s insecurities about their looks, weight and size.

How to Have a Healthy Body Image as a Teen

Now that you know what can affect your body image, how can you improve it? Having a better relationship with your body starts on the inside.

Next time you’re stuck in the comparison trap and feel like you don’t measure up to a celebrity, social media influencer or even a friend, ask yourself:

  • Is this image real? Most of the images we see on social media, TV and in magazines are edited and/or filtered. Photoshopping pictures is common practice in advertisements and magazines. There are also many apps that alter a person’s appearance (such as making their eyes or lips bigger) or add filters to make their skin look “flawless.” 
  • Is this image realistic? Each of us is born with a genetic blueprint that determines our height, eye color, hair color and body shape, among other characteristics. If you can’t achieve your “ideal” image without drastic measures like restrictive dieting, expensive products, extreme workout plans or plastic surgery, the image may not be a good fit for your genetic makeup. And pursuing it may be harmful to your physical and mental health.

Here are some other ideas to improve your body image:

  1. Clean up your newsfeed. Unfollow or unlike any profiles or pages that trigger negative thoughts about your body or appearance. Stop watching TV shows or movies that lead you to feel bad about yourself. You have control over many of the images and messages you allow into your brain.
  2. Nix negative conversations. Do you have a friend or relative who constantly says negative things about their appearance (or the appearance of others)? Change the subject. Ask about a special event coming up or what music they’re into these days. If that doesn’t work, consider spending less time with them.
  3. Follow people who inspire you. Now that you’ve cleaned up your newsfeed, add and follow accounts, podcasts, newsletters or video channels that inspire you to make healthy choices and feel good about yourself.
  4. Pay attention to your inner dialogue. How do you talk to yourself? Would you make those same comments to a friend? If not, it’s time to speak kindly to yourself.
  5. Celebrate what makes you unique. Write down 10+ qualities you love about yourself that have nothing to do with your appearance. We’re all so much more than what we look like. By focusing on qualities like your intelligence, kindness, compassion, curiosity, and talents, you can make a positive impact on the world and feel more confident about what makes you YOU.  
  6. Consider your beauty ideal. You don’t need to be “fixed” to be beautiful. Each of us is unique and beautiful in our own way. And you get to decide what’s beautiful to you. Trends come and go. One minute, it’s cool to be thin. Then it’s more popular to be curvy. Next, the hottest look is to be muscular. It’s impossible for all of us to fit into all of these standards. Once you start celebrating your unique shape, size and look, you’ll feel more confident in your own skin—and perhaps inspire others to feel more comfortable with themselves too.

With some intentionality and practice, you can cultivate a healthier self-image. And when you feel good, you’ll have more fun and help make the world a better, brighter place.

Need more info? Connect with an Expert.


Centerstone Body Image webpage

National Eating Disorders Association

Dove Self-Esteem Project

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