Bugbears: Aaron's advice about body and mind
This month I’ll be talking about your feelings about your body. I hope you take this advice seriously from me. You see, I’m someone who shares a lot of your concerns. I’m bald, clumsy, was no good at PE, I wear glasses and have an accent – and guess what? I’m writing advice for CBBC, so it can’t be that bad can it?
So much of what upsets us about our bodies is our feelings about our bodies. Most of what gets us down is the thoughts in our heads, not stuff to do with our bodies themselves. We get upset when we compare ourselves to others and think we should be something that we are not. The trick is to learn to accept yourself and focus on the things you feel positive about.
Click the headings below for advice on a topic that worries you.
Because we’re talking about bodies, it can be reassuring to check with your doctor if you think things are going wrong or you want to check out something that is very upsetting to you.
Aaron says: The truth is the only person that should tell you if you’re too fat is your doctor. That’s because people come in all different shapes and sizes, and YOUR size is about what makes you the most healthy for YOU – not necessarily how you or other people think you should look. The way to a healthy you is very simple: it’s about eating healthy food in the right amounts, and getting some appropriate exercise everyday. If you’re doing that, it’s likely you’re healthy whatever your size.
Too thin Aaron says: Just like worrying about being too fat, it’s up to your doctor to determine if you’re too thin. Lots of times we compare ourselves to others and think we should be more like them, when the best thing is to be comfortable and healthy in our own bodies. So long as you’re eating right and getting out and exercising regularly, you’re probably the right size for your health and body type. Remember that your body is for YOU, not to compare it to others! Be body happy!
Aaron says: Just like worrying about being too fat, it’s up to your doctor to determine if you’re too thin. Lots of times we compare ourselves to others and think we should be more like them, when the best thing is to be comfortable and healthy in our own bodies. So long as you’re eating right and getting out and exercising regularly, you’re probably the right size for your health and body type. Remember that your body is for YOU, not to compare it to others! Be body happy!
Aaron says: Guess what? Spots are natural! I know they seem horrible, and when we’ve got them we feel like it’s the only part about ourselves that anybody can see (it’s not true). The thing is, everybody gets them now and then and YES you may be more likely to get them around puberty, but for most of us, they stay for a while, and then go. Try not to give them more attention than they need, and remember you’re more than your spots!
Aaron says: While I know there’s a lot of pressure to be good at everything, especially sport, the truth is that all of us have different talents in different areas. Someone who might really be good at drama might be terrible at football, but that’s okay. That’s what makes us different and special.
The trick here is to find something that you ARE good at, and let that be something that helps you to feel good about yourself. That’s much better than thinking just about the stuff you’re not good at, don’t you think? For the stuff you’re less good at, like PE, just do the best you can, and don’t worry about being perfect.
Anyway, most schools nowadays have what’s called “inclusive PE” which includes all sorts of other activities other than team sports that people with different skills might be good at: check out what your school offers.
Aaron says: Here’s a little secret. So many of the people who were seen to be “clever” or “geeky” in school are the very same people who have changed the world in some way. Think of Albert Einstein, one of the smartest people ever (and people loved him and STILL love him). Or think of Bill Gates (Microsoft) or Steve Jobs (Apple) who not only changed the world, became very wealthy too!
There’s nothing wrong with being brainy, it’s just a different way to be skilled (like some are sporty, and some are arty). People may give you a hard time sometimes, but remember it is a gift, and it’s likely to take you to some pretty amazing places.
Aaron says: Hey guess what? I’m clumsy too. Famously so. Clumsiness is often about how aware you are of your body. If you’re not aware of it you’re more likely to knock things over, trip yourself up, and spill things on yourself: trust me, I know! While some people are just naturally more clumsy than others, you can help yourself by trying to keep focused on tasks that you are on, and stopping your mind from wondering. It’s when your body is one place and your head is another when most clumsy accidents happen.
Aaron says: The most important thing about teeth is that you keep them clean, because once you lose your baby teeth, the ones you’ve got left need to last the rest of your life! Sure, lots of people get hung up on how wonky they might be, if they’re white enough or if they’re straight enough. People with braces are worried that they look funny (they don’t last forever!). Just remember, your teeth are for munching your food, they don’t say what kind of person you are. If people judge you by your teeth, they’re just not looking hard enough.
Birthmarks, scars or warts
Aaron says: We can get pretty obsessed with things that mark us in some way, whether they are birthmarks, scars or warts. Fortunately, warts can be treated, and for the most part, they’ll go away pretty quickly once your doctor has seen to them.
Birthmarks and scars are a bit more difficult to get rid of completely, though if you feel they are really getting you down, talk to your doctor and see what s/he says. Most of us though, have scars or birthmarks that are just a part of us, and a part of what makes us different. We tend to notice them more than other people. If we notice them and hate them, we’re more likely to feel badly about them. If we notice them and accept them as an interesting part of who we are, and that we’re more than just a birthmark or a scar, we’re likely to feel much better about it.
Aaron says: Like so many other things, we can get really hung up on our hair. You can think “It’s too frizzy! It’s too straight! It’s too curly! There’s not enough of it! There’s too much of it!” Most people worry because they compare themselves to others thinking that someone else’s hair is “right” and my hair is “wrong”. You’re hair is “right” for you, that’s why you have it! Curly hair like Michelle on “Totally Rubbish” is perfect for her, and Newsround’s Hayley’s long straight hair suits her. Can you imagine them different? Don’t compare hair, just enjoy your own!
Aaron says: While both girls and boys get concerned about body hair, girls tend to be more sensitive about it because they think they’re not supposed to have it. It’s simply not true, all human beings are covered with body hair – it’s just that you can see it more on some people than others. Again the problem is comparison: if you compare yourself to someone in a magazine (where all the hair is air-brushed out), you’re bound to feel bad about yours.
Also, different races have more or less visible body hair. It’s just these differences that make us beautiful and different. So try not to concentrate on comparing yourself, but seeing yourself as unique and different.
Aaron says: If you are reading this and you are worried about being too short or too tall, let me tell you something. At your age, difference in height is at its maximum. That’s because people grow at different rates and you can shoot up (or not) several inches in just a summer! Since we tend to compare ourselves to those around us, it can be worrying to have to look up or down at people all the time. While it can be a bit weird, don’t worry. By the time puberty is over most people are within an average range of each other.
While some people will still be taller or shorter than others when it’s all over, that’s just part of the great variety of different sorts of people. You’ll find that your ultimate height is the right one for you.
Aaron says: Quite simply, there is nothing wrong with wearing glasses. If people are making fun of you for wearing glasses, they are not so clever are they? I mean, what’s the point! Glasses are there to help you see a bit better. The cool thing about glasses is that they can also be a fashion accessories. How might you choose glasses that reflect your personality? (I like thick rimmed ones myself). Instead of thinking of them as something to get you down, think of them as something that adds a new dimension to your face! It’s all a matter of perception!
Aaron says: Sometimes people get really hung up on clothes, particularly brands. The thing is, we can’t all afford the top brands, and there’s no reason why we should. Brands show off the skills of the designers of those brands, not the people wearing them. The only thing you should concern yourself with is if those close are appropriate for the occasion, and clean and fresh. Otherwise, choose what reflects YOUR personality, not what people think you should wear. Be creative – and be a leader, not a follower.
Aaron says: There is absolutely no excuse for anybody to poke fun at somebody else’s skin colour. This is racism pure and simple. If this is happening in your school, it is bullying and you should tell someone about it straight away. Nobody should ever be made to feel ashamed of his or her race. You should feel proud of who you are, whatever colour or race! Once you know that deep inside, what others say about it will hurt less. All the same, they shouldn’t be saying it, so seek some support at home or school about that.
Aaron says: Accents are pretty cool. Unfortunately, at your age, almost anything that marks you out as “different” can make life pretty tough. An accent is just a reflection of where you come from, and accents kind of tell a story about you. What’s your story? I bet it’s an interesting one. When you feel proud of that story and share it with others, you won’t feel so bad about your accent. Most people really like other people’s accents – so if the people around you don’t, I’m sure you can find people who will.
Aaron says: One of the hardest things we have to deal with is the death of somebody we love. What makes it worse is that because death is so scary to some people, they don’t know how to talk about it. Then, when we need our friends the most, they don’t know what to say! Talking about it is the most important thing you can do when somebody dies. You’ll want to talk, you’ll need lots of hugs, and you’ll want to cry a lot too. All that’s natural. While it can really hurt, the terrible feelings do go away with time, and they go away faster if you’re able to talk.
If you find some friends can’t talk to you, find ones that do. Once the other friends realise you are still who you’ve always been, they’ll come around. Most importantly, find people you CAN talk to, and talk to them about it as much as you need.