When body image impacts self-esteem
Body image effects people of all ages. But for adolescents—whose bodies are already undergoing massive changes—it’s especially critical.
Common disorders (and how to identify them)
Many body image disorders revolve around food and eating— but they also emerge through obsessive exercising and even in drug use. Here are ones to look for:
AnorexiaAttempting to be thin, adolescents use one or a combination of ways to restrict food intake. They may: • refuse to eat, move food around on plate • purge food from their bodies by vomiting • misuse diuretics and laxatives • use stimulants to suppress appetite LOOK FOR: weight loss, brittle hair & nails, dull skin
BulimiaWith this disorder, adolescents binge eat, followed by selfinduced regurgitation. LOOK FOR: long bathroom breaks, foul breath, stained teeth
Binge eatingEating large amounts of food in small amounts of time LOOK FOR: (hard to spot because many binge in private)
Body dysmorphic disorderObsessive-compulsive attention to a perceived bodily flaw. Here are examples:
- acne fixation to the point of constant picking and cover ups
- exercising excessively or using steroids to bulk-up and gain muscle mass (mostly in males)
How to help
Though the disorders listed here are serious—and may require professional medical and psychological help—there are things you can do to both prevent and ameliorate body image conditions.