Body Image Of Young People: Health Behavior Due To Modern Trends
The objective and goal of this work is to develop health promotion and address the status and behaviour of health on young people, especially focusing on the recent years and trends. This report also targets to explore the nature of protective and risk factors as well as influences on young people on the concept on body image to raise awareness of the emerging issue.
Body image refers to how an individual views themself when they look into a mirror or picture themselves in their mind. This comprises of what they believe about their own physical appearance and how they feel about their body. However, when body image becomes a significant focus, people may overestimate their size or weight. It is crucial to have a positive body image and not allow negative thoughts constantly take over the mind, as it associates with poor mental health. Many teens identify body image concerns with body size e.g thinness for girls and muscularity for boys.
The nature of body image has increased significantly in young adolescents and has raised many concerns. Research studies of Youth Central in Victoria have proven that approximately 9 out of 10 young Australians have dieted at least once in their lives so far, demonstrating body dissatisfaction and the perspectives they have to believe they should look a certain way. Thus, 30% of 10-14 year olds are actively dieting. Additionally, this arising issue among young people have led to many programs, campaigns and helplines like Beyond Blue and Reach Out Australia to assist in those who need support.
Teens nowadays are constantly pressured to look a certain way and conform to society’s approved appearances, portrayed through Instagram models and celebrities posting their slim “healthy” bodies or unrealistic waist proportion. Hence, this has a negative impact on young individuals as they will reflect back on their own bodies and strive to look like what they see on these platforms and thus the nature in which this health issue is conveyed is deluding to many individuals.
Unfortunately for the 6th year in a row, the concept of body image still continues to be one of the top three personal concerns for young Australians, according to the Butterfly foundation. This increasing trend from 20.4% in 2012 to 26.5% in 2015 highlighted and emphasised year after year of this mental health concern. Moreover, this distressing record illustrates the failure of approaches to address the arising issue and urges the need of action from the government, teachers as well as health professionals.
Negative body image is a serious social, medical and mental health issue which often links to anxiety, depression, social withdrawal or even eating disorders. Eating disorders are a serious and potentially fatal mental illness that affects nearly one million Australians. These individuals often suffer from a low sense of self worth which has proven to be prevalent among young people. Unhealthy body image affects many lifestyle choices, it could lead to excessive exercise or under-exercise, substance use and the desire for unnecessary surgical intervention.
In a BBC health survey, a shocking 51% of young women claimed they would undergo surgery to improve their looks or body “flaws”. According to BBC radio, almost half the people surveyed out of 25000 young people said that they had skipped a meal to lose weight. As shown in the bar percentage graph below on the bottom right, many young girls have the desire to look thinner and according Melrose center to the bottom left, it was found that over 59% of women are worried of being judged demonstrating our insecurities in society based off looks. Sadly, over 50% of teen girls and 30% of teen boys use unhealthy weight control behaviours such as fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting and taking laxatives.
There are many risk behaviours linking to body image, some of which include taking in media influence or having an unhealthy balanced diet like eating out too often, which leads to body dissatisfaction. Poor body image can contribute and have a toll on all aspects affecting the dimensions your mental, emotional, spiritual, physical and social life factors. Consequences of negative body image can lead to comparing yourself with others and feeling as if you are judged by them.
Protective tips to reduce negative body image is to be grateful and remind yourself to embrace and focus on your positive qualities, skills and talents to help you accept and appreciate yourself and focus on yourself as a person, not just how you look.
Furthermore, it is important to avoid negative talk and surround yourself with positive, supportive, warm people. A risk behaviour could be listening to pressure from family, peers or media to fit into a narrow perspective of beauty and a protective factor is to set positive, health focused goals rather than weight loss ones. Protective behaviours are to follow the Australian dietary guidelines, eating certain foods in moderation and exercising regularly in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Furthermore, it is also vital to maintain a positive mind set mentally, spiritually and socially. Meditating is a great way to relax, calm and release thoughts and emotions to clear the mind and joining clubs or extracurricular activities, meeting people and forming friendship groups in which you share a common interest is a great way to feel socially accepted.
In the 21st century, especially among recent years, young people have had and continue to be extensively influenced by the media, such as television, radio broadcasts, magazines and most importantly, social media. In today’s society, a vast majority of young people and teens have access to online social media apps like Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook, in which plays a massive role on influencing these individuals. These social networking platforms draw attention to concepts like body image, in which young people have the desire to conform to the ideal body type or the “norms” of society.
The portrayal of unrealistic beauty and body images in the media still remains a global issue as digitally altered photos convey the misperception of reality, hence portraying truth and illusion. It is seen to be that many young people associate their self-worth with the number of “likes” or “comments” they receive. Consequently, most people can now alter their images in their liking with the swipe of a fingertip on their smartphones like add filters, brighten features,whiten teeth and many more. Many individuals are constructing a different and non authentic persona or “versions” of themselves online and images in which they wish others to see themselves on these platforms, therefore perhaps generating a damaging toxic culture.
Prevalent today is the viral dieting industry, promoting dangerous, hazardous messages justified with health and wellness, in which many people are unaware of the destructive influence. This includes trends like “thinspiration” and “clean eating,” which fill social media news feeds with images that instead stigmatise weight, disordered eating, weight loss and dieting. Other dangerous trends that are continually circulating social media include the “thigh gap” and more recently, the “ribcage bragging” have negatively impacted young people in many damaging ways as mentioned above.
Furthermore, peers and families also have an impact on body image to individuals. Friends influence adolescent body image in all sorts of ways whether it is negative or positive. For example, peer criticism about weight and shape contribute negatively to young adolescents’ beliefs about their physical appearance and are correlated with lower levels of self-worth.
The Secure Teen Health website have shown that most teenage girls who starve themselves to become thin are trying to meet the standards set by other peers around them. They may not want to be bullied or be seen as different to everybody else, resulting in unhealthy behaviours. These unhealthy tendencies can lead to severe problems like belanomia, anorexia, mental health issues like anxiety and depression and ironically, obesity. These teens often see binge eating or taking comfort food as a solution to stress, which therefore emphasises that all determinants of health are interrelated.
Research has shown that when parents are emotionally warm, affectionate and available, individuals tend to be more secure, well-connected, healthier and safer compared to peers raised in other settings. Parental nurturance appears to be a significant factor in the positive development of young adolescents. Family interactions shaped the view they had of their bodies and appearance as they were influenced by direct feedback and comments and by modelled body image behaviours. Negative comments from families had significant and long reaching effects on how young people perceived their physical selves.
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