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Welcome to the R.E.A.L. Education & Outreach Blog. Let's work on what gets in your way.

Self Image and Teens

Brittney McZeal

My morning routine was in full swing.  After logging on to the computer,  I went to the website to check the daily world news.  This is always a gamble because the headlines are either about a Hollywood scandal or really depressing news about countries in turmoil leaving me with a feeling of resignation either way.  Yesterday, a headline on the top news feed caught my attention: “Teen Girls Asking Internet:  Am I Ugly?”

Crazy you say?  I thought that too!  I was prompted to open this up and read it immediately. According to the article, teen girls were polling the internet for validation.  Asking to be judged?  Aren’t we all judged enough by our own tough, inner critic?  Isn’t it stressful enough to “Keep up with the Kardashians?”   I know for sure that when I was thirteen I was insecure, comparing myself to teen models on the Seventeen Magazine cover and my peers, also yearning for validation of my outward appearance.  I know that feeling beautiful was  foreign territory and it wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I even felt remotely attractive. I had a lot of self-esteem work to do.

If the internet were around in the late seventies early eighties, I probably would have been in worse shape regarding self-esteem.  The teens in today’s high tech world need support from all sides now.  The article goes on to say that parents must reassure these teens that their worth is about who they are not how they look, easier said than done.  What if these teens don’t live with their parents? What if the parents they do live with tear them down because of their own lack of self-esteem?  What if the people they are surrounded by at home don’t have any social and emotional skills?  This is the reality. In a perfect world, we all would have been told as children that we were beautiful, talented, and could do anything we set our mind to.  I always dreamed of living with the Brady’s of the Brady Bunch when I was young, it seemed that Mike and Carol and even Alice were great listeners and truly supportive always building the six kids up.  I know now that the Brady Bunch was fiction.

We have a responsibility to take care of our young people as parents, guardians, teachers, coaches, and leaders in the community by validating them consistently even when they dismiss us.  I am so excited to get Reality Check out into the schools with my amazing team of young people, so that we can validate, love, support, and listen to these teens. Hopefully, they won’t feel the need to poll the unknowns on YOU TUBE to feel good about who they are.  They will know in their heart that they are worthy, loved, supported, and have the confidence to make a life plan and go for it!.