The importance of appearance to children and young people
How we look is an important part of us and our identity – and a lot of us can remember just how concerned we were about our appearance when we were teenagers.
This is a particularly difficult phase for young people, as often the time when they so desperately want to look a certain way is also a time of lots of physical changes beyond their control.
It’s also something we often associate with teenage girls, but lots of boys also contact us to talk about how they look.
This boy told Childline: “For a couple of years I’ve been comparing myself to other lads in my year, I’m 16-years-old and I’m not fat but I’m not skinny or average either.
“The lads in my year will be skinny and or athletic, but whenever I look at them I get a sudden urge to be alone because I get so envious and depressed.
“I just don’t know how to handle things because I don’t speak to people about it because I’m afraid people will call me an attention seeker.”
It can be difficult for young people to talk about how they feel about their looks to friends or family, but whatever part of their body or image is worrying them, there are ways to help them feel better.
Firstly, you can remind them that everyone is different, so they shouldn’t need to compare themselves to others.
A lot of the time, even the people who seem most confident will have parts of themselves that they don’t like.
Sometimes people can make negative comments about how others look, and although it’s easier said than done, it is best to ignore these comments.
We recommend that young people think about what they like about themselves, then write three things down to remind themselves of their positive points.
It is also a good idea for young people to focus on other aspects of their lives, like hobbies they’re good at, so they can remember the way they look is only part of what makes them who they are.
For free confidential advice and support on this issue and about any worries, children and young people may have, they can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or go online at www.childline.org.uk