Own your image

Opinions of others a major concern for students

Jenna Benjamin

According to MentalHealth.org, 40 percent of teenagers are worried about their body image, and it’s easy to see why. In today’s society, our image is everything, and I’ve seen this firsthand. Being in multiple schools, I have seen why we need to have a good image.  We have to look good for our peers so they don’t think we’re poor. We have to look our best in public so others don’t put us down. We have to be better for everyone always…until we know ourselves. 

As high school students, we feel like we need to give off the best image of ourselves at all times, most importantly on the internet. The first place most teens go is Instagram. While this doesn’t sound like much of a problem, some people really go into depth about what they see online. They zoom in to see if we pulled in our waist, they look to see if we whiten our teeth, and we really don’t want to know what they’re thinking when we put the wrong filter on that picture. Nowadays, no one posts an unedited picture, including the people that are critiquing it.

Through our phones, we thank everyone for their kind thoughts about the post, but as soon as we get home and look at it again, we think it needs to be deleted. When we post it, we feel pretty and think there is nothing wrong. The longer we look, the more imperfections we find. This pose makes me look fat. Why does my hair look like that? I look awful standing next to my pretty friends. My outfit doesn’t even match.

Knowing that I’m making myself better for no one but me is rewarding and helps boost my confidence.

To get past these imperfections, we have to learn to love ourselves for how we look, even when it’s changing, whether it be through lifting weights, finding true friends or just changing our mindset. Throughout high school sports, we are taught to lift every day to keep our bodies strong and in the best shape. A lot of people end up using lifting to help them love themselves. As an athlete, when my body starts changing it’s scary. Instead of being skinny and having curves, I now have muscle that sticks out. While this is great as an athlete, I don’t look like everyone else anymore, but that’s not a bad thing. Lifting and working out helps me get away. Knowing that I’m making myself better for no one but me is rewarding and helps boost my confidence.

Another way I have learned to love myself is through my friends. We get so used to comparing ourselves to others in public and at school that when we finally have the people we trust, we can relax. Finding a group of friends that we can be ourselves with is really important to help us love ourselves for who we are. I found my group of friends the summer of my junior year, and I haven’t looked back since. Getting to call them any day of the week so I don’t have to do something alone is perfect. When we have a free night, we can go out and do anything without any second thoughts about dressing up or what other people are thinking of us; we can just relax.

If we don’t like knowing that people are constantly judging us, why do we do it to them?

The final way I think we can all feel better about ourselves is by changing our mindset. If we can convince ourselves that we look good, that’s all that matters. When we can finally overcome the mental block of accepting ourselves, it doesn’t matter what other people think anymore. Only the strongest opinion will stand out, and it has to be ours. 

Having a no-judgment zone and a support system is how we thrive and have confidence as teenagers. It is not easy when it feels like the world is constantly comparing us to someone else. So, the next time we are thinking about zooming in on someone’s picture or judging them for what they look like, take a second to step back. If we don’t like knowing that people are constantly judging us, why do we do it to them?