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How Being Called “Fat” Affects Your Teenagers

Whether your teenager is a male or a female, many teenagers battle body image due to the judgmental opinions that other classmates, friends, or social media may offer them without any regard to their feelings. The teenage years are heavily influenced by what others think, which can carry into their adult lives. It isn't easy talking to your teen about their body image. Reach out to Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center in Mississippi at 662.373.2828 to speak with our team about how you can help your teen.

Being Called 'Fat' as a Teen Can Shape Adult Self-Esteem

With the obesity rates increasing with each passing year, there is no doubt that more teenagers are being affected negatively by being called 'fat' during their teens. Self-esteem is significantly altered when someone’s weight becomes the target of the latest teasing. Boys and girls differ in how they react to their peers commenting on their body type. With girls, they will begin a journey of wishing they could make changes to their bodies and become obsessed with dieting. Teenage boys are less likely to open up about their insecurities where their body image is concerned because they are uncomfortable with being vulnerable. Both scenarios create red flags within both genders that could lead to eating disorders to comply with the pressures they feel in maintaining a perfect body.

Body Image in Teens Influenced by Criticism

One study from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) called the 'Growth and Health Study' collected data that pointed to how a distorted body image and weight due to criticism from others could lead a teenager down the path to an eating disorder. 2,036 girls participated in this research that started when they were the age of 14. The girls were asked if they were called 'fat' by their mother, father, brother, sister, best friend, teachers, classmates, friends, or boys they liked.

Next, the girls were given a questionnaire that asked them to describe their efforts to stay thin in the past 30 days as a direct result of being called 'fat.' At 19, those same girls returned to finish the study and took a duplicate questionnaire about their unhealthy behaviors over the last 30 days, including binging and purging, not eating, smoking, using laxatives or pills, or just skipping meals to keep from gaining weight.

The moral of the story is that words can be used to inspire or discourage another person in a split second. Body image in teens can be significantly influenced by criticism, and the best way to protect your teenager is to refrain from any hurtful or damaging comments about their weight, no matter how well-intentioned you think you may be.

Teen Body Image Can Lead to Unhealthy Behaviors

Being called 'fat' as a teenage boy can also harm your mental health and weight. The judgment of others can lead to unhealthy behaviors in boys just as it can in girls, such as binging, purging, smoking, using drugs or alcohol, or skipping meals. Boys may try to diet or use other methods to lose weight to conform to what others think is acceptable. This can lead to dangerous eating disorders that can have long-term effects on your health.

It is essential to encourage your teenager to love their body no matter what shape or size. Teens should be taught that health is more important than looks. Help them understand that people come in all different shapes and sizes and that there is no 'perfect' body type. Promote positive self-esteem by complimenting your teen on their accomplishments, character traits, and inner beauty. Let them know that you love them no matter what and that they are perfect just the way they are. It is vital for parents, teachers, and peers to be aware of the power of their words when it comes to a teen's body image.

Stonewater Can Help with Body Image in Teens

If you are a teenager struggling with your body image, know that you are not alone. Talk to a trusted adult or counselor about the way you are feeling. Help is available if you feel like you can't cope independently.

Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center leads the way with progressive, evidence-based programming to most effectively treat each adolescent while focusing on the uniqueness of each client. Healing the mind, the body, and the spirit as the same can make the most significant difference in staying sober. Call us today at 662.373.2828 to start living in recovery.