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5 Reasons to Toss Out Your Skinny Jeans

A reality check on body image and weight loss for teens.
By Jennifer Soong
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD

girl leaning on rack of jeansAshley McDonald knows that trying to be skinny when you're an overweight 16-year-old can feel like an uphill battle.

This teen from McAllen, Texas, tried a number of weight loss diets, but they didn't last. She worked out daily for an hour in the morning with a personal trainer and an hour on her own in the evening but was discouraged about her results.

"I felt upset because I was doing all of this hard work," she says. "I was doing all of this exercise and being on various diets throughout the year, and it wouldn't show."

You may be able to relate to Ashley's struggles. Maybe you've taken steps to lose weight or be more active, yet you don't feel like your efforts are making an ounce of a difference -- because you can't fit into your skinny jeans.

If so, it's time to put your weight in perspective. Aiming to be a super-skinny teen takes the focus away from where it should be -- on your health and well-being. Read on to learn how switching to a goal of being a healthier teen can make you a happier teen by boosting your body image and self-esteem.

Pressure on Teens to Have a Perfect Body Image

Where do you see skinny jeans on skinny girls most often? In the media. So many of the body image messages that girls especially are blasted with on a daily basis -- from TV shows to glossy magazines to jeans' oversized ads -- suggest that if you can squeeze into the slimmest jeans, then you'll look and feel happier.

Of course, that simply isn't true. Even worse, thinking that way isn't productive. It places skewed importance on your wardrobe and makes you feel like a failure if you can't fit into a specific pair of jeans, even if you have made steady, solid progress toward being healthier. It also pressures you to squeeze into someone else's notion of how you should look, instead of learning to develop your own unique beauty.

"Our culture does overemphasize appearance," says Chris Tiongson, MD, a pediatrician with Sanford Health in Fargo, N.D. "It puts a lot of tension in kids. At the same time that more and more kids are bigger, the cultural pressure is to be smaller and smaller. There's a big disconnect between reality and expectations."

So do it -- ban skinny jeans from your closet. Here are five reasons why you should.

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