Self image, it’s a term that we toss around easier than we can define it. In a society where we’re supposed to be progressive, it’s crazy how one dimensional we remain. The pressure to exude a particular look, both in attire and physique is off the charts. Whether on magazine covers, tweets by celebrities or models there’s little healthy about how the human body is portrayed. When what a guy or girl is supposed to look like is defined in an unrealistic and pre-packaged form we set our selves up for inevitable issues. How can our kids have a positive form of self image? If it falls to society to define their identity they can’t. With these standards they’re bound for a distorted perception of themselves.
Outside factors influence how young people perceive themselves. What does this look like? One spoke in the wheel is social media. With this spoke we have the trickle down effect. The media depicts and defines what we’re supposed to look like (which is totally skewed and unhealthy). But when teens digest and believe these notions and then inadvertently pass them onto their peers it is kindling in a fire. The present culture will set the stage for documenting people, places and things. Kids have their phones with them constantly; with this stems selfie madness. Whether in a Snap Chat story, selfie via text or Instagram post when we take pictures of you, in the moment, holds great weight in defining that person. It’s who I’m with, where I’m at and what I look like.
Self image dismantled and distorted…
This does not apply to all teens, but it’s more prevalent than it should be. Young girls are under false pretense that part of their significance equates to what their bodies look like. Blah. Super false! Whether it’s a snap of lingerie or a picture with more boob showing than the eyes need to behold; they devalue themselves and connect self worth with the physical. Young men are no exception to the rule. Whether they show off their six pack or how many girls they’re surround themselves with; they equate their value with physical appearance.
I find it kind of crazy watching kids or adults take a gazillion pictures of themselves in 1,023 different poses. Whether one or fifty of these make the cut, they’re then placed out for friends and friends of friends to look at. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with taking pics of yourself, but it’s the intention behind it. There’s the line in asking, “Am I looking for approval with what I’m sending out?” or there’s, “Am I trying to be something I’m not?” The world is full of artificial coffee cake to artificial people. Neither are appealing. We can’t allow our kids to fall into a self saturated, artificial zone.
Ways that our kids can possess a positive self image:
I love that you asked! You can resort to your kid being Amish going without a cell phone, or here are a few tips to rock out:
- Lessons without lectures: I’m super biased, but I believe one of the greatest ways to have our kids be less saturated in themselves is by focusing on others. If we think we are the be all end all than our image of ourselves is shallow and fragile. Get them involved. Volunteer. Age cannot be an obstacle. My little dude was 3.5 months old on his first outing to feed the homeless. Start them young and it becomes a part of them.
- Limits: Place limits on their cell phone use. Allow for time to interact face to face with friends and family. It’s super easy to get sucked into the vortex of Instagram posts and Snap Chats. Take a step away from messages that get into our psyche without us even realizing it. There’s a great article posted on the Child Mind Institute on the correlation with anxiety and low self image or sense of worth and the access to texting/social media by our young kids from 3+. I believe this will only become more apparent as time goes on. Check it out when have a chance: https://childmind.org/article/how-using-social-media-affects-teenagers/
Peeps are important::::
- Peers: With or without cell phones, who our kids chill with is super important. Encourage them to get plugged into a club or sport in school. I’d also recommend and encourage a youth group (church, synagogue, etc.). Youth groups not only provide peer influence, but they frequently have a heavy community service base.
- Faith: We all come from different walks of life. Having faith in something bigger than you can often play a role in how we view and perceive ourselves. Personally, my faith in Christ reaffirms that I don’t need to bend and snap in pics for my Instagram followers approval. Who I am is based in Christ and Him alone. Kind of stoked about that. I’d encourage you to explore that one personally and with your young people.
- Family Chat: Let your kids know that you think they rock and that they’re beautiful on the inside and out. Because they are! I would encourage you to not solely focus on the external. Find unique ways to exude their positives that aren’t solely based on appearance. Appearance is and shouldn’t be everything.
- Break bread: Make a habit of doing a shout out once a week during family meal time, express what you value about one another. This may be like pulling teeth at times, but most of the positive affirmation will not focus on the physical. External positives make an impact and will resonate with your kids.
You have more of an influence than you realize
Teens face a heap of pressures to adhere to the false messages society and social media will send in how to define their personal self image. There is the ability to rewire. It is an uphill battle. Fight for your young people. Know that you can make an impact and self image doesn’t have to boil down to fleeting and one dimensional definitions.
Get your goodness on!
Peace, Love & Goodness! – Erin