“Mirror, mirror, on the wall? Who is fairest of them all?” The wicked queen in Snow White thought she was so beautiful, but many who suffer from low self-esteem go to their mirrors and see distorted body images: I’m fat. I’m ugly. I hate my figure.
Our society is obsessed with outward looks. Fashion magazines, commercials, and other media are filled with air-brushed, unrealistic photos of women with outward beauty and slim figures. And men are portrayed as lean with muscular arms and six-pack abs.
All this media of what society calls “perfect” plays on our minds. Teens especially start thinking in order to be successful in life, they need to look like them. When I was a teen, I remember the pressure of being a “Twiggy,” a fitting nickname for a skinny model whose arms and legs looked like twigs. But with increased digital media, I think teens today have even greater pressure to conform. Instead of being happy with who they see in the mirror, they feel like they will never look good enough. Both media and peers, and sometimes even family members, pierce arrows of “you aren’t enough” barbs into their hearts.
Some teens even sink into bulimia and anorexia, eating disorders that often develop because of low self-esteem, poor body image, pressure to conform, or the trauma of abuse. A study done with 1000 Girl Scouts between the age of 13 and 17 produced sad results:
One in three girls said they have starved themselves or refused to eat in an effort to lose weight, while almost half said they knew someone their age who has forced themselves to throw up after eating. More than a third said they know someone who has been diagnosed with an eating disorder.
In another study of teenagers between the ages of 12 and 18, data concluded that there are more than half a million teens with an eating disorder. Sadly, many are not being treated, and many have depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.
Teens need to hear repeatedly how special they are just as they are. God has created each of us with a unique body style and individual personalities. Yes, we have to take care of ourselves, but we don’t have to look like models. He loves us just as we are. He doesn’t think we’re ugly or fat. He is enthralled by our beauty.
The wicked queen in Snow White didn’t realize that what made Snow White so much more beautiful was the beauty in her heart. And that’s what God cares about. God focuses on developing our inner beauty through the love of Jesus so it will reflect in everything we do and who we are.
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→ Teen eating disorders: Tips to protect your teen
→ How can an individual understand what a person struggling with an eating disorder feels if they have never dealt with an eating disorder?