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. With the obesity rates increasing with each passing year, there in no doubt that more teenagers are being affected negatively with being called “fat” during their teens. Self-esteem is greatly 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 change to their bodies and become obsessed with dieting. Teenage boys are less likely to open 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. 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 at the age of 14. The girls were questioned about if they were called “fat” by their mother, father, brother, sister, best friend, teachers, classmates, friends, or boys that 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 the age of 19, the 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 data from the long-term study showed higher statistics of girls who were labeled “fat” at 14 began using eating disorders more predominantly to cope than those who were not told that they had weight issues. The moral of the story is that words can be used to inspire or to discourage another person in a split second. A teenager is still being molded into who they will become. Calling them “fat” can take the virtue that they still possess and mar their ongoing self-perception.
Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center leads the way with progressive, evidence-based programming to most effectively treat each individual adolescent while focusing on the uniqueness of each client. Healing the mind, the body, and the spirit as one in the same can make the biggest difference in staying sober.
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