Many people bother about being too thin. This worry cuts across sexes and ages but seems to worry teens more often. What can be done?
Justin is trim and fit but not altogether happy with his body. “I’m trying to put on some weight,” he admits. His current diet therefore consists of five meals a day, amounting to 4,000 calories. However, he wants the added weight to be solid muscle. So he adds: “A buddy of mine and I get up early and go to the gym together some days before work to lift weights.”
Vanessa is also on the thin side. But she is quite content with her weight. “When I was younger, kids used to tease me and call me bean pole,” Vanessa recalls. “But I don’t worry about it anymore. I just accept myself the way I am.”
‘Accept yourself the way you are.’ That sounds like good advice. But it may be advice that you find hard to apply. As a teenager, you may be in what has been described as “the bloom of youth.” Particularly tumultuous is that period of rapid physical change known as puberty. During puberty, parts of your body may grow at different rates; your arms, legs, and facial features may seem hopelessly out of proportion. This can leave you feeling awkward and unattractive. Then there is the fact that not all youths develop at the same speed. So while some of your peers may have developed a muscular physique or a womanly figure, you may still seem thin in comparison.
Although much has been said about youths who feel that they are overweight, often overlooked are youths who feel that they are too thin. This may particularly be the case among certain ethnic groups and in some countries where thinness is not considered a sign of beauty. In such regions a thin girl may suffer cruel teasing for being “skinny.”
What about boys? According to researcher Susan Bordo, “studies on body image that had been done in the decades prior to the “80s had suggested that when women look[ed] in the mirror, they saw nothing but flaws,” and men? Continues Bordo: “Men looked in the mirror and saw either an OK image or actually an even better one than what was warranted.” But in recent years, that has begun to change. Noting that men make up over a quarter of cosmetic surgery patients, Bordo associates the current upswing of young men”s interest in fitness with the “perfect” male bodies shown on underwear ads in the United States and other Western countries. Naturally, this has impacted teenage boys. They may feel inadequate if they do not have the muscular physique of male models.