Boys’ perception: finding a healthy body image

Promoting a positive sense of self and body image to adolescent boys in a world that sends so many messages about the “perfect body” can be a difficult task.

The way a boy perceives he looks influences his day-to-day life, from his levels of self-confidence to his self-esteem and self-respect.

Many boys do not have any problems facing the mirror and being happy with the image staring back at them, understanding their body is their own and accepting any perceived imperfections – looking to their strengths rather than weaknesses.

However, some boys grapple with the image in the mirror, struggling to find positives in the reflection they are faced with.

There has been a rise in the levels of reported eating disorders among adolescent boys in WA in the past decade.

A 2015 study by the Princess Margaret Hospital Eating Disorders Clinic warned findings revealed boys tended to develop eating disorders at an earlier age compared to girls, with the average 13.5 years whereas girls were developing disorders by about age 15.

Researchers said it was more difficult to spot eating disorders among boys as they were less likely to vomit to control their weight and were just as likely to want to gain weight as to lose it depending on their disorder.

With the stereotypical notion of being strong and muscular fueling a lot of the negative perceptions of their bodies, adolescent boys can face a struggle to find a balance and positive view of what is real and seemingly normal when it comes to body shape and image.

The onset of puberty also sparks emotional and physical changes in boys and this can be a time when they begin to question if their body looks right in their eyes and those of others.

Kids Helpline offers teens advice about dealing with negative body image views;

  • Learn about advertising and the media, how images are produced and their purpose
  • Understand you are much more than how you look, so pay attention to other things in your life
  • Appreciate qualities other than appearance in yourself and others
  • Avoid ‘appearance conversations’ and judging people on how they look
  • Inform yourself about health, nutrition and lifestyle
  • Spend time with others who are positive and help you feel good
  • Spend time doing activities and interests that make you feel good
  • Learn to appreciate and respect your body and what it can do
  • Practice positive self-talk
  • Write down things you like about your body
  • Ask close family or friends to tell you what they like about you