YOUNG PEOPLE ASK
Am I Obsessed With My Appearance?
If you have a problem with your body image,
how can you gain a balanced view of yourself?
Quiz: Am I obsessed?
Why do I have a negative body image?
Should I change the way I look?
The best makeover ever!
Quiz: Am I obsessed?
1. Which statement best describes how you feel?
I am never satisfied with how I look.
I am sometimes satisfied with how I look.
I am always satisfied with how I look.
2. What would you like to change most about your body?
3. Complete the following sentence.
I feel most insecure about my body . . .
when I get on the scale.
when I look in the mirror.
when I compare myself with others (friends, fashion models, movie
4. Complete the following sentence.
I weigh myself . . .
less often than once a week.
5. Which expression best describes your feelings?
Negative body image. (Example: “Every time I look in the mirror, I
think that I see an obese, hideous figure. I’ve even starved myself in an
effort to lose weight.”—Serena.)
Balanced body image. (Example: “There’s always going to be
something we don’t like about our appearance, but some things we just
need to accept. It’s silly to be anxious about something we can’t
The Bible tells us not to think more of ourselves
“than it is necessary to think.” (Romans 12:3) So
it’s proper—even necessary—to think about
yourself to a degree. That’s why, for example,
you brush your teeth and give attention to your
What, though, if you frequently get discouraged
over your body image—perhaps to the point of
being obsessed about it? If that’s the case, you
might wonder . . .
‘Why do I have a negative body image?’
There could be several reasons. These include:
Influence of the media. “Young people are bombarded with images that
make us feel that we have to be superskinny and gorgeous at all times. As a
result, if we’re anything less than perfect, we feel disgusting!”—Kellie.
Influence of parents. “I’ve noticed that if a mother is obsessed with her
body image, often the daughter views herself the same way. It can be the
same with fathers and sons.”—Rita.
Low self-esteem. “People who are obsessed with their body image
constantly demand positive reinforcement from others about how they look.
It gets tiring to be around that!”—Jeanne.
Regardless of the cause, you might be asking . . .
‘Should I change the way I look?’
Consider what some of your peers say.
“You can’t always change the things
you don’t like about yourself, so it’s
best to accept your flaws. If you do,
other people are less likely to notice
“Do what you can to be healthy. If you’re
healthy, you’ll look the way you’re
supposed to look. And if someone can’t
appreciate you for who you are (rather
than what you look like), that person isn’t
The bottom line: Do what you can to look your best. But don’t worry about the
rest. Being overly concerned about how you look can be dangerous.
When I was 16, I had major issues with my weight. I’ve never been
overweight, but I’m not naturally skinny either. I was curvy. I thought that
just maybe, if I were slender, guys would like me. So I almost starved
myself in order to achieve the body I wanted.
I got skinny, but I ended up with health problems as a result. These were
addressed, but the emotional effects are still there. To this day, I have
issues with food. I’ve slowly come to terms with my body. I eat right and
exercise. But when I’m upset with myself about something, my automatic
reaction is to punish myself by not eating.
If I could, I would tell other young people to remember that everyone has a
different perspective. No matter what you look like, there will always be
some people who think you’re attractive and others who don’t. The
important thing is that you’re healthy. That’s what matters to those who
truly care about you.
On the other hand, a balanced attitude will help you view yourself realistically, as
a young woman named Erin learned. “Sure, I have insecurities,” she says, “but I
notice that I feel bad only when I focus on the wrong things. Now I just exercise
regularly and eat right. The rest falls into place naturally.”
The best makeover ever!
When you have a balanced view of your body image, you will feel (and even
look) your best. The Bible can help. It encourages you to cultivate the following:
Contentment. “It’s better to enjoy what we have than to want something else,
because that makes no more sense than chasing the wind.”—Ecclesiastes
6:9, Contemporary English Version.
A balanced approach to exercise. “Bodily training is beneficial for a little.”—
1 Timothy 4:8.
Inner beauty. “Man sees what appears to the eyes; but as for Jehovah, he
sees what the heart is.”—1 Samuel 16:7.
“Our face shows how we feel about
ourself. If a person is content, others can
see that and they are automatically drawn
to that person.”—Sarah.
“Prettiness can get quick attention. But
who you are on the inside and your good
qualities are what people will remember
about you the most.”—Phylicia.
See also Proverbs 11:22; Colossians 3:10, 12; 1 Peter 3:3, 4.