Self image issues in young women

We are currently living in a world where young girls and women are competing with a standard of beauty that is unfortunately not real.

Thanks to social media filters, our definition of “beauty” has become something that actually does not exist.

At the same time, we are seeing increased rates of plastic surgery, body dysmorphia, self-image issues, and eating disorders. As a therapist, I am alarmed by the rise in the number of young women in their teens and early twenties attending my counselling practice with these presenting issues.

Women and young girls have become increasingly dissatisfied with their self-image, causing an increase in symptoms of anxiety and depression. This has implications for an entire generation’s self-esteem and overall mental well-being.

We need to help women and young girls accept themselves and love themselves for who they are. And this needs to begin at a young age. We need to be cognizant of what we are reinforcing in them through compliments and comments pertaining to their self-image. We need to help them feel loved for their authentic selves rather than their self-image – which is one part of their entire selves. This means we need to stop showering them with compliments for losing weight and/or criticizing them for gaining weight. Doing so sends the message that they are loved and approved of with conditions of being “thin” or the perceived image of an ideal body weight/structure likely influenced by perfectionist beauty standards set by media. It also sends the message that if they do not fit said criteria, love, approval, and affection may be withheld from them, or worse, they will be on the receiving end of criticism and contempt.

Instead, we need to encourage young women, at a young age, to build their self-worth. We need to promote a healthy view of the Self as inclusive of both inner and outer beauty, the whole Self. We need to provide guidance through modelling self-love and acceptance. We need to foster and nurture the intrinsic acceptance of their authentic selves, so we can prevent an entire generation of women from chasing after unattainable images and standards unfortunately perpetuated by media as “beautiful.”

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