Impacts of Low Body-Image on Self-Esteem

Meaghan Ramsey is the Global Director of the Dove Self-Esteem Project at Unilever, and she tackled a very sensitive topic that touches upon the impacts of low body-image on self-esteem. Today, we are living in an image-obsessed culture; adolescents are spending more time worrying about their body image and how others perceive them at the expenses of their personal and intellectual growth. Likewise, things such as social relationships, family time and academic life and so on, start to suffer.  According to Ramsey, adolescents are no more interested in developing their intellectual or physical abilities; they are, on the other hand, spending more time caring about their appearances and how to become more appealing.

Ramsey stated that in U.S and China for instance: “thirty-one percent, nearly one in three teenagers, are withdrawing from classroom debate. They're failing to engage in classroom debate because they don't want to draw attention to the way that they look”. Such activities are fundamental for their development. There are even students who do not show up if they think they do not look good enough.  These things and others are alarming and prove that many adolescents suffer from low self-esteem. They are influenced by what people say about them. So, the problem is no more how they look, but it is how people think they look.

She added that these things might be detrimental to their health and well-being. Adolescents, who suffer from low body confidence, become less physically active, more grumpy and unsociable. For her, these things can lead at greater risk, to depression, eating disorder, drugs abuse, earlier sex…etc.

Ramsey has worked on a program in order to help adolescents to develop a healthy body image. She found out that education is the first key element to developing a positive body image. Families can make the difference and help adolescents respect one’s body shape or size. They have to help them develop their individual qualities and take care of themselves emotionally and physically.  Other areas that she addressed include: media and celebrity culture, how to handle teasing and bullying, the foundations of respecting and looking after yourself.

Finally, she thinks that listening to how they feel  and being a better role model as parents, families and educators is crucial to overcome this issue of body image. Ultimately, we need to work together as communities, as governments and as businesses to really change this culture of ours so that our kids grow up valuing their whole selves, valuing individuality, diversity, inclusion.


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