How Body Image Can Affect Your Teen’s Self Image

In today’s society we are surrounded by images of different celebrities, models, and influencers all pushing what they believe to be the ideal “body”. This is extremely damaging to young people who are impressionable and are looking for guidance on how they should look and feel about themselves. Body image is an increasingly important subject to talk about due to how it can influence a teen’s image of themselves, and the decisions they make throughout their life.  Teenagers need to be reinforced and supported on this subject so they understand that everyone is unique and amazing in their own way. They do not need to strive to look like someone or be like someone, they just need to be the best version of themselves possible. Once they understand this they’ll be able to handle anything that life throws at them. 

Image as Identity

We live in a world where image seems to be the most important issue for young people. They have more media influence on their lives than at any time during human history. From Instagram, to TikTok, to YouTube, their lives are flooded with imagery of beauty and what “perfection” is supposed to look like. It can be difficult when their peers seem to emulate these looks with ease, and even more difficult if they are struggling. This can create huge body image issues for your teen because they’ll start to feel less-than. When they feel defeated, their self image will begin to deteriorate and it can be very difficult to heal those wounds.

The Effects of Having a Negative Body Image

A positive self image can really change the way a person sees themselves and treats themselves. Unfortunately, this is so ingrained in the way teens view their bodies, that the two really go hand in hand. This can cause some serious and negative outcomes if your teen does not have a positive image of their body. It can lead to depression due to the fact that they feel their body doesn’t “measure up” to the standard that people deem acceptable. This depression can create a whole host of saddening outcomes such as the development of an eating disorder, and in the most dire cases, thoughts of suicide. These are both extreme situations and need to be dealt with quickly and safely. Teens that feel hopeless about their bodies, will lose all self-esteem and in turn will not see any light at the end of the tunnel. This is something that you need to be vigilant about and seek help if you feel your teen is experiencing these thoughts or actions.

Teaching Self Acceptance

It is imperative that you allow your teen to feel safe in the home to speak up when they begin to feel sad about their own body image. Make sure to have a safe space policy where your teen can discuss any and all issues that they may be facing regarding their own body image. There are many support groups filled with amazing people who have gone through and overcome negative body image issues, coming out stronger and better. Make sure to remind them that what they see online, is only a tiny snippet of what is actually going on in that “influencer’s” life. It’s also important to note that photoshop and well-placed angles work wonders for these people that spend hours getting the perfect snapshot. These discussions can work wonders because your teen will feel heard, and you will be able to give them the tools they need to overcome their own insecurities.


Dealing with body image issues can be extremely stressful for both the teen and the parent. The constant worrying can take a toll on you as a parent, and your teen is dealing with it while navigating the all too stressful world that is their teenage years. Your support is so important to them even if they won’t admit it. Make sure to always be a role model and help them whenever they need. 

Tilly’s Life Center is also a valuable resource for you and your teen. Our social and emotional workshops specifically help teens overcome their own body image and improve their overall self image. To get started, check out our virtual workshops that will truly give your teen the tools they need to have a more positive self image and improve their emotional wellbeing.