Teen Talk

Teen Talk: Stop hating your body – time to build some confidence

DEAR KELLY: I hate my body and, as much as a try, I can’t lose weight. I have tried like every diet and cleanse possible and nothing works. I’m tired of my best friend being so skinny and cute and I’m her fat friend. I hate pictures of myself because I think I look chunky in every picture, so I only let my friends post pics of me from the neck up.

I’m always asking my friends if I’m at fat as other people. They always say no, but I think they are lying. When I say I’m fat, everyone says I’m not but I think my life would be so much better if I was skinnier. Guys think I’m nice and I’m everyone’s friend, but no one likes me or wants to ask me out. I really want a relationship, but no one seems interested.

If I lost like 25 pounds I think everything would be better and I would like myself better and maybe I could get a boyfriend. What can I do if nothing works and as much as I try I can’t lose weight, other than completely starving myself (and I tried that too!)? I’m tired of always watching what I eat, sometimes never eating and still never being skinny. I don’t want to be the ...

Fat Girl

DEAR GIRL: It’s normal to have positive and negative feelings about our bodies. Almost everyone has a part of their body they don’t like or they wish they could change. But taking it so far as to say “I hate my body” is concerning.

Where do all these negative thoughts about your body come from? They typically don’t just come out of nowhere. Can you balance the things you don’t like with the things about yourself you do like? Or do you just focus on your perceived “flaws” and all the things you feel are wrong?

Let’s start with the obvious. Bodies are different. People have different body types, shapes, compositions and sizes. Most of these are determined primarily by genetics with our lifestyle habits being contributors as well. Comparing ourselves to other people who have a different genetic makeup is like comparing apples and elephants – they are too different to compare.

Why are you placing so much value on weight? You seem to believe that losing weight will equal joy and contentment. Skinny people are not guaranteed happiness or a better life. Happiness comes from within, not from a scale.

Have you been to your doctor for a checkup? Ask your doctor how your weight measures up comparable to your body size. Your doctor will be honest, so let him or her be the benchmark on whether or not you need to lose weight. If the doctor says you are fine, listen closely. If her or she tells you that you need to lose weight to be healthier, talk about options as to how to go about doing it without starving. Perhaps the doctor will increase your daily exercise or do some bloodwork to determine if something chemically is preventing you losing weight. Maybe meeting with a dietitian would help create a balanced menu that fuels your body instead of starving it. Let the medical professional help be your guide to determining where you stand weight-wise.

Losing weight will not make you the person you want to be. That comes from self-acceptance and the ability to appreciate where you are today. Instead of chasing rainbows thinking that one day you will be happy or one day you will love, start with today and how to make today a good day.

Instead of concentrating on finding someone to like you, focus on learning to accept and appreciate you and your body.

To love yourself means you accept yourself as you are – the good and the bad. It is about being kind to yourself and knowing yourself and your boundaries. It is about being healthy in your mind, body and spirit. It is about treating your body with care and not starving it with the hopes of losing a few pounds. It is not wanting to be different but rather accepting your differences. It is about being strong in who you are and stronger in letting go of who you are not.

If your doctor says your weight is fine and you still feel like you want to lose weight or see yourself as fat, you need to speak with a professional. These negative tapes you play in your head are damaging to your confidence and self-esteem. They are creating a distorted reality and you need help in learning how to change the tapes. Loathing the vehicle you are living in is a recipe for a painful life. Stop now so you can start to live a life that enables you to accept and love yourself. Reach out and let a professional counselor help you walk this journey so you do in a healthy and sustaining manner.

How you take care of yourself and treat yourself directly affects the quality of your life. When you learn to take care of your body, it will learn to take care of you. Stop letting your harsh inner critic get the best of you. Practice the art of self love and self acceptance. Until you make peace with who you are, you will never be content with what you have or who you will become.

Write to Kelly Richardson at Teen Talk, The Sacramento Bee, P.O. Box 15880, Sacramento, CA 95852, or email krichardson@ sacbee.com.