I look at my stomach in the mirror each morning and all I see is fat. But I am told by everyone I know that I am skinny as a stick. Do your eyes play tricks on you when you look down at your stomach or is everyone trying to be nice to me?
You may think that people are just being nice. But with such a big difference between what you see in the mirror and what others see, something else could be going on. It might mean that the "fat" you see is not as much as you think it is, and that others hardly notice it.
During adolescence, female bodies go through lots of normal changes, including storing a little more fat. As with any change, this may take some adjustment. It can feel strange getting used to living in a body that's different from the one we used to have. It can be tempting to compare ourselves with all the other bodies we see, whether they're those of classmates or people on TV. But people come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Learning to love and accept our bodies ("imperfections" and all) helps our self-esteem stay strong. Perhaps you're being too hard on yourself, too self-critical, and noticing only the things about your appearance that you aren't satisfied with. By paying so much attention to this one thing, you're giving it more emphasis than it deserves. That can chip away at your overall body image.
Having a distorted body image can affect our relationships, too. Perhaps your friends are growing tired of hearing you talk about your body — especially if they think you have nothing to worry about. It can be hard for people (even really good friends) to constantly hear others put themselves down or look for reassurance about their appearance.
What can you do to adjust to your changing body? Instead of focusing so much on appearance, focus on eating healthy foods and getting plenty of exercise. Appreciate your body for what it can do, notice the things you like, and pay attention to developing your inner beauty, too. Taking these steps will help set the stage for a lifetime of appreciating, rather than feeling insecure about, your body. And that will help you look and feel more self-confident!
If you try these things but still have trouble shifting your focus away from your body and weight, talk to your health care provider or with a therapist who specializes in body image and eating disorders. You want to get a healthy perspective on your body image to prevent an eating disorder or other problem.
Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: February 2013
*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.
|American Council on Exercise (ACE) ACE promotes active, healthy lifestyles by setting certification and education standards for fitness instructors and through ongoing public education about the importance of exercise.|
|GirlsHealth.gov GirlsHealth.gov, developed by the U.S. Office on Women's Health, offers girls between the ages of 10 and 16 information about growing up, food and fitness, and relationships.|
|Strong Girls On this site, you can find information about self-esteem and healthy relationships, as well resources if you or someone you know needs help.|
|Help! Is This My Body? Your body's changing - and if you've ever felt out of step with it, you're not alone. Find out how to deal with body changes and feelings in this article.|
|Body Image and Self-Esteem When your body changes, so can your image of yourself. Find out how your body image affects your self-esteem and what you can do.|
|How Can I Stop Focusing on My Flaws? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|How Can I Improve My Self-Esteem? We all experience problems with self-esteem at certain times in our lives — especially during our teens when we are figuring out who we are and where we fit in the world.|
|Body Dysmorphic Disorder For some people, worries about appearance become extreme and upsetting, interfering with their lives, a condition called body dysmorphic disorder.|
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