Currently more than 70% of youth consider their physical appearance as a very important part of their relations with others and for being accepted. And a large majority of these youth want to live with their body, their face, their physical appearance, etc., either through photography, modeling, acting, etc. That’s why they try to imitate popular figures or people.
Physical appearance is our “wrapping”, and we should take care of it and love our bodies. This doesn’t mean that youth should tremble when their appearance does not coincide with what they believe they should have or be: the perfect body, the perfect hair, a face free of imperfections, a firm chest, etc…What am I going to do if I don’t have the perfect legs, or perfect chest?!
Why is physical appearance so important for youth?
A large part of this is due to the fact that society has created paradigms regarding aesthetics and advertising mediums. They have taken the responsibility to manage images and stereotypes that youth look for (a lot of times, desperately) to adjust.
Putting a lot of emphasis on physical appearance can rob focus from what is truly essential in life. Self-confidence should be based on what one can share with others, beyond the cover of a book lies its contents, which is what truly speaks about essences behind the image.
Imagine if a teenage boy were to achieve the perfect image, and the moment arrives when they get it, everything goes well…then they get it….then the struggles and insecurity set in because, behind the image, they haven’t constructed an identity. The book doesn’t have much to say.
Youth need to be taught to love what they are, to cultivate their potential and to not criticize themselves, but rather to observe and grow, little by little. Always learning what they are, above outside criticism or opinion. If youth don’t give themselves the credit they deserve, then they will very likely search for the easy path to confidence through their physical appearance. And when they feel like they didn’t achieve what they “wanted”, they might feel, in reality, very angry with themselves. They might then do everything possible to look like what they think others expect them to look like, denying, condemning, or rejecting their own image. This happens most especially when they’re obese, have acne, very thin legs or body, etc., which truly worsen the insecurity problem.
Each human being is unique, and the most valuable part of everyone is the genuine qualities that each and every person can discover within him/herself. When someone finds their true value beyond appearance, and achieves their own inner beauty, it overflows from their body. You can then feel confident with any package, no matter if you have green or black eyes. All eyes are beautiful, not because of their color, but because of what lies behind them, and by the way they look at and understand the world. What good are blue eyes when they can’t see the beauty in human beings?
If we could only send this message to kids and teens, we would be giving them a better life that is deeper and has more meaning.
One way of starting to achieve this is to not give false or exaggerated compliments to them. It’s important to give one’s opinion and help teens and kids think about what makes them happy or feel good, to help them observe, when they make a decision about something, if they aren’t just doing it to please others (including their parents or surrounding adults.)
Surrounding adults should always try to speak respectfully of his/her body, to focus on the youth’s potential and to stimulate whatever cultivates admiration for him/herself.