Intro stage in a young person’s life




Most people have something about
their bodies they would like to change, usually these are things that most
people don’t notice about you but still bother them when you look in the
mirror. Little obsessions over your body can seem to be a normal human trait
however the progressively importance of body image in the 21st
century consumer culture cannot go unnoticed. Negative body image has a
significant impact on the cognitive, physical and psychosocial development of
adolescences. This essay will outline the impairments that body dissatisfaction
has on an adolescent’s life and the impact that these impairments have at home,
at school and the wider community. This essay will also outline the atypical
development associated with body dissatisfaction.

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Developmental implications

Adolescence is a
stage in a young person’s life of great mental and physical change, including
one of the most crucial tasks of developing of self-identity. Social
acceptance, academic competence, romantic appeal, adult approval and physical
appearance all contribute in the development of self-identity. However,
physical appearance and its competencies play a significant role in the making
of a confidant adolescent. Body image is what
and how you feel and think about your own body. It is the picture that you
create in your mind of your body, which may or may not reflect your body’s
actual shape and size.

Encompassing a
positive or healthy body image is being happy and satisfied with your own body,
in addition to feeling comfortable and accepting with the way that you look. Unfortunately,
research shows that many people have negative body image and are unhappy with
their appearances and often desire to change their body’s shape or size.


There are many
variables that determine body image including the complex interaction of
self-esteem, socio-cultural norms, self-image, media and peer perception and
behavior. The perceptional that an individual has of their body can
be greatly determined by their social experience. Body image varies and is
partial to change through new experiences and information. Media has found to
be particularly significant in producing changes. While the socially accepted
‘ideal’ of beauty has evolved and changed significantly over the centuries, it
is clear that today’s media


The media presents
both real and unrealistic images of the human body, which adolescents then
often compare to their own. As adolescent’s brains are still maturing they can
be easily influenced by these images and can aid in the development of an image
of the ‘model’ body. Body image can stem from a person’s childhood as popular
toys such as dolls and action figures have unrealistic figures. Magazines,
television and advertisements that are targeted at females adolescents are full
of imagery of attractive, young, slim, airbrushed females with large chests and
small waists, while media made for adolescence males are filled with images of
strong, attractive, physically fit males. These sorts of unrealistic body ideas
are one of many attributes that lead adolescents to having poor body image.


Most adolescents are
preoccupied with their own body and its comparison with others. These
comparisons can often lead an individual to make changes in their behavior in
order to obtain their self-perceived idea of the model body. These
self-perceived notions may arise in different body image concerns including
attractiveness, body weight and shape, body hair, skin color, height and shape
and size of a specific body part (breast, penis, nose, legs) etc. These
behaviors can quite often become harmful and can cause body dysmorphic
disorder, anxiety, eating disorders and depression.


Adolescents can be found to be
especially vulnerable because of their body image being particularly visual and
salient whilst they undergo such significant psychological and physical changes
associated with puberty (Ricciardelli and Yager, 2015). Going through puberty
can often intensify concerns with body image. For males, puberty often brings
on characteristics that are typically desired by society including strength,
height, broadness and speed. For females, puberty brings characteristics that
for a lot of people are found to be less laudable, as they typically have
increased body fat. These changes can often lead to body dissatisfaction
amongst girls. Going through puberty earlier or later than a person’s peer can
also have an impact on their psychological health and body image.  Typically, females who develop earlier and
males who develop later than their peers present the most significant
challenges to body image. Negative body image can often lead adolescents to
maladaptive behaviors including over-exercising, extreme diets and drug use and
in extreme cases even depression and suicidal attempts.



Impact and Strategies

Body dissatisfaction
among adolescence is an increasing perplexing concern as it has significant
impact on young peoples mental health, emotions, behaviour and their well being
(Keery & Thompson, 2004). All of the potential impacts negative body image
can have on adolescents have correlating impacts on their home, their school
and the wider community.

Body image is not only the
perception of how a person view’s themself, but it is also how they think
others see them as well. Adolescents in particular prefer to fit in, as
standing out or being different is found to be extremely stressful Adolescents
seeking acceptance from their peers and friends is linked to their feelings of
self-esteem and acceptance and holds great importance to them (Lieberman, 2001).

This is why body image and how adolescents view themselves has a significant
impact on the school. Negative body image can lower a person’s self-esteem and
self-confidence and in turn negatively impact their academic achievements at

School marks a time where
adolescences spend an increasingly amount of time with their friends, both
during and outside of school time and because of this is found to be
characterised by their increased concern surrounding greater intimacy with
friends and peer acceptance (Veronneau & Dishion, 2010). It can be
established that body image already plays a big part in schools as students are
continuously comparing themselves to their peers. There is a link between poor
body image and the copying of weight loss behaviours by peers or friends
(Carey, 2011). Research conducted by Blowers (2003) found that more significant
body dissatisfaction was identified in adolescent females who stated that their
friends at school modelled weight loss behaviours.

Body dissatisfaction has immense impact
on school as it and can dramatically affect student’s academic results, mental
health and social development.  Bandura
(1995) outlines how it is likely that a person’s body image will influence
their self-efficacy. For students in particular encompassing high self-efficacy
are more likely to have advantages in comparison to people with low
self-efficacy. Students with high self-efficacy are commonly healthier, more
effective and set higher-grade goals therefore having more positive life and
schooling experiences (Bandura, 1997).  This
research shows how poor body image impacts academic achievement due to the
feelings of depression and worthlessness, which impairs performance (REF).

Adolescents that have positive body
image are more likely to see and think about their body for its functionality
and are happy and comfortable with their physical appearance (REF). Their focus is more
on what their bodies help them achieve the things they enjoy to do like running
or playing sports, rather than just how their body looks. Schools are in a
favourable position to promote and encourage positive body image to their
students. Traditionally, body image has been viewed as a domain of secondary
schools however poor body image is becoming more prevalent in children of
younger ages. Introducing and promoting positive body image in primary schools
is a strategy that primary schools need to implement.

It is important to acquire a
healthy school culture that promotes positive body image, acceptance of
different abilities and enjoyment of activities and sporting. One of the most
effect ways a school can develop this culture is through the teaching of social
and emotional skill in the classroom. Research shoes that when explicitly
taught, social and emotional learning and awareness can filter through to the
whole-school environment. Adolescence learns from those around them, so
ensuring that they have strong role models, supportive influences, reliable
teachers and safe classroom environments. Schools need to implement effective
practices that exclude appearance-related bullying and have specific supportive
programs in place for children bullied as a result of their body size or shape,
ethnicity or any physical appearance (REF). 
Schools need to provide informative lessons based on fitness and
nutrition with a focus on their health, having fun and social connections.

Body dissatisfaction impacts not
only the school but homes as well. Poor body image doesn’t stop once students
leave school it carries through to their home life and can negatively impact
their relationships with their families and can often lead to depression and
other mental health issues. Providing parents with information that informs
them how to support their children to develop and maintain and positive body image.

Atypical Development and its

Atypical development is when a person’s development doesn’t follow the typical
course. Atypical development could include things like social disabilities,
learning disabilities and mental health disorders (REF). Body dissatisfaction can often lead to
adolescent atypical development as it affects their cognitive, physical and
social development.  Body dsymorphic
disorder (BDD) is a disorder describes as a persons preoccupation with their
body’s faults, to the point in which it affects their daily life (REF).  People with BDD let their obsession with
their body to take over their life focusing on their idea of their problem
feature and obsessing over a way to cover or distract from it (REF). This atypical development
has many challenges and implication for parents, teachers and community
stakeholders.  Adolescent’s do not reach
their developmental milestones when they feel insecure and out of place (REF). In situations where
there is atypical development that is cognitive or physical in nature, adolescent’s
social and emotional skills will be negatively impacted. During adolescence,
there is an increasing amount of conflict and emotional distance between
children and their parents (Steinberg,
1987). When adolescences have poor body image it can strain their
relationships with their families even more. Families often look to their
children’s teachers and schools for support and advice. Atypical development
associated with body dissatisfaction impacts students’ academic and social
competence and therefore directly impacts their teachers. Teachers need to be
aware of the signs of poor body image and have strategies in place to promote
health and positive body image. Teacher can do this by creating awareness to
students through school campaigns that encourage conversation about body image
and schoolwork that portrays messages of diversity and acceptance.


Throughout this essay it is evident
that body dissatisfaction in adolescent’s can often lead to more complicated
issues including eating disorders, social issues, delayed cognitive development
and mental health issues (REF).

Body image plays a big role in the success of adolescent’s cognitive, physical
and social development and is associated with atypical development. The effects
of negative body image ascend through to the home, the school and the wider
community. Thankfully, with effective support and intervention it is evident
that improvements on body dissatisfaction can be improved and can help prevent
the further development of mental health issues in the future. Promoting
healthy and happy lifestyles both at home and at school with reflect on
adolescent’s perception of their body image.




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