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How Do I Feel Better About My Body?

By Stephanie Booth
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD

girl leaning on rack of jeans

Sophia Landau, 15, often overhears girls at her Portland, OR, high school complain about their looks. “A lot judge themselves pretty harshly,” she says.

And they all want the same “perfect” body: “A large chest with a flat stomach, large butt, and ‘thigh gap,’” Sophia says.

It’s not just students at Sophia’s school who wish they could change their appearance. It’s teens everywhere -- girls and guys -- and maybe even you.

There’s nothing wrong with trying to look and feel your best. “But if we’re obsessed with our bodies,” says clinical psychologist Jennifer L. Taitz, PsyD, “it’s hard to focus on much else.”

Body image -- the thoughts and feelings you have about your own body -- isn’t something you’re born with, but something you learn. You can be affected by comments you heard when you were young or what other people around you say about their weight or how they look.

It’s also based on what you see online, in ads, or on TV. Airbrushed photos of models and glammed-up shots of actors are everywhere, so it’s easy to get the message that they're what you should try to look like, even though their body types may not be realistic or healthy for most people.

So it’s time to stop obsessing over the body you don’t have -- and probably don’t need. Instead, love the one you do have, and focus on keeping it as healthy as possible. Some things to think about the next time you look in the mirror:

See beyond skinny.

That number on your scale is just that -- a number. It can’t tell you what your body should look like. For that, you’ll want to talk to your doctor. She can explain what a healthy weight is for you, given your height, family history, and body type.

“Skinny is what we all gravitate towards, but there are so many more body types,” says Danelle Fisher, MD, chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John’s Health Center.

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