Most of us are unhappy with bits of our bodies. We constantly judge other people on theirs too. But why?

A negative body image is often about insecurity and low self-esteem

This is how we see ourselves

We all care about how we look to some extent. And most of us have bits we'd like to change. No one checks the mirror and thinks: 'Yes. I am perfection'. But girls as young as five are now routinely worrying about their weight, size and shape.

Many of us have a negative body image. We judge people (ourselves included) on looks. We think about our looks most of the time, and use energy thinking about how we can make ourselves better, so much so that half of girls and a third of boys aged 14 admit to dieting to try to change their body shape.

So why does it happen?

A negative body image is not always about vanity. It can often be about insecurity and low self-esteem.

'Slebs are everywhere. Just when you think it's safe to open the paper - whoops, there's another one. Beaming, glowing: all sinew and teeth. Studies show that we are significantly more dissatisfied with our own appearance after being shown TV ads featuring exceptionally slim and beautiful people.

The same applies to reading fashion magazines. Experiments show that magazine photographs of super-thin models can promote feeling of depression, stress, guilt, shame, insecurity and body-dissatisfaction.

What - and we buy this stuff?

Why do we do it to ourselves? Can't we see the airbrushing? The fake tan/nails/teeth/hair/boobs? The full time personal trainer and stylist? It's like measuring up to plastic dolls.

The super-slim celeb look is only achievable for about 1% of us. Remember, the average UK female is a size 14/16 so quit squidging your soft bits in disgust or feeling hopeless because we just can't get a six pack.

We are brilliant because of who we are. Not how closely we resemble Rihanna or Ryan Gosling!

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BBC Advice factfiles are here to help young people with a broad range of issues. They're based on advice from medical professionals, government bodies, charities and other relevant groups. Follow the links for more advice from these organisations.


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