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Body Image and Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are complex conditions that usually arise because of a combination of factors. However, most teenage girls who develop eating disorders struggle with body image issues. Body image issues affect the way the girl perceives her physical body, causing her to make unhealthy choices in an attempt to change her shape or weight. 

Body Image and Adolescence

A teenager’s body image is the way she sees herself in her own mind, as well as in the mirror. The idea of body image also encompasses what the girl believes about her appearance. If she has a positive body image, she will accept herself as she is and feels confident in her own body. However, if her body image is unhealthy, she will have a distorted perception of herself. She may feel like she is too fat, that her hips are way too big or that her shape isn’t nearly feminine enough. She may also take steps to change these perceived flaws.

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About Teen Body Image Issues

Many women develop body image issues in adolescence. During this time, a young girl’s body shape changes, often causing her to gain weight along with rapid growth. In addition, hormones and societal pressures may cause her to become more sensitive to her body image in general. Likewise, if peers make comments to young girls about their bodies, it can change the way these girls perceive themselves. 

Teen Body Image and Eating Disorders

A teenage girl’s body image has a significant effect on her propensity to develop an eating disorder. For example, if a teenage girl’s body image is negative, she is likely to become more self-conscious. If her level of unhappiness with her own appearance is high enough, she may even begin taking steps to change it. Not all of these changes are dangerous. Eating a healthier diet and exercising on a regular basis are not signs of an eating disorder. However, if the girl begins restricting food significantly, exercising excessively and/or purging after meals, it indicates the development of an eating disorder. 

Treating Eating Disorders and Body Image Issues in Adolescence

When body image issues in teens lead to the development of an eating disorder, getting the proper treatment is essential. Without treatment, an eating disorder can lead to a host of negative consequences for young girls, including malnutrition, heart problems, mental health concerns and much more. In the worst cases, eating disorders that appear as a result of teenage body image issues can even result in death. 

To treat this type of eating disorder, helping professionals must focus not only on the eating disorder itself but also on the teenage girl’s body image issue that led to the development of the disorder in the first place. Helping to develop a positive body image in teens with an eating disorder can improve the effectiveness of treatment and reduce the chances of a relapse after the treatment program is complete.

Issues with body image in adolescence are usually viewed as a psychological problem. As a result, treatment of these issues must incorporate psychotherapy or other modalities designed to address mental health problems. The goal of treatment is to improve body image in teenagers by correcting irrational thoughts. Once a teenage girl’s body image has improved, she won’t be as likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors associated with eating disorders. However, it is still important for treatment programs to incorporate medical care for young girls with eating disorders. 

Choosing a Treatment Center

When a teenage girl develops an eating disorder because of negative body image, enrolling in an appropriate treatment program can help. To ensure the best chance of success, parents must choose the treatment program carefully. In general, it is best to look for a treatment facility that focuses on treating eating disorders and body image in teenage girls. 

At Clementine, we understand the complexity and importance of healthy body image in teens. Our treatment programs provide teenage girls and their families the empathy, education, and support they need to overcome eating disorders and regain a healthy perception of themselves. Please contact us to learn more about our customized treatment programs for eating disorders and body image in teenage girls.


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