Location: Bradley Hospital

Summer and Body Image

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Tan lines and sunburns are not the only thoughts that can plague people's minds during the summer; many teenage girls go through a lot of unnecessary stress over the thought of how they look in a bikini.

In fact, many grown women can also identify with feelings of anxiety over wearing a swimsuit-a type of stress that can be traced back to adolescence.

Experts at Bradley Hospital in Providence say that disturbances like eating disorders and body image problems tend to appear in the teenage years due to increased societal pressures to have an ideal appearance.

Our Own Worst Critics

There is no doubt that in Western society, thin is in. From fashion runways to TV shows, pop culture worships a lithe physique.

Girls are constantly bombarded with media messages to mimic a physical ideal depicted by body-baring swimwear or lingerie models in magazines and catalogues.

Parents can best help their daughters (and themselves) overcome body-image anxiety by reinforcing the notion that we are our own worst critics.

Most other people will not be scrutinizing their body and appearance nearly as closely as they are looking at themselves, say Bradley experts. For example, do you notice the cellulite on others' thighs from ten feet away?

Give yourself a reality check next time you're at the beach or pool.

Most real women do not look like models, and even the models in magazines have been airbrushed to hide imperfections. Magazines and catalogues do not depict reality.

What Suits You?

In addition, making the right choice about a swimsuit can go a long way to building one's confidence.

Teens should choose a bathing suit they feel comfortable in; if you feel self-conscious or over-exposed, you will spend your time worried about how you look rather than enjoying yourself.

Experts also suggest that young women engage in fun physical activities such as swimming or volleyball that get them focused on what their bodies do, rather than how their bodies look.

This builds self-esteem and helps them feel better in their own skin.