When I first hit puberty, I had incredibly low self-esteem, as do most pre-teens; it is an intrinsic concept.
However, many do not know that it is not just a lack of self-confidence; sometimes it is much more dire. Have you ever heard of Body Dysmorphic Disorder? Many have not, and if you have not heard about it already, please continue to read, as it is very important for either you or your children to understand that, perhaps it is not you that is broken; sometimes it is merely the reflection, backed by distorted perception.
I could not stand the sight of myself, no matter how I dressed or wore my hair. I was either too skinny, or too pale (the acne did not help), or too quiet, or too loud…in the end, anyone in a pubescent state will find something wrong about themselves. However, people at that age do not understand why others seem so happy with how they look, yet when they peer into that mirror’s gaze, all they see is flaw. Now why is that? Is it possible that this is all in our minds? Yes, it is absolutely possible!
Body Dysmorphic Disorder is characterized as a “body-image disorder” in which the person (majority of them teens, for unknown reasons) finds a way to see flaw in normality, even on occasion beauty, pointing out abnormalities of their bodies that do not even exist. Sometimes they come naturally; other times (as was my own case), a small defect can be pin-pointed by a peer or person (I was often told I looked anorexic) and suddenly it becomes an issue you just cannot take your mind off of. It leads you down a path of self-destruction, as every time you see your reflection, you see that abnormality, and you will go to extreme lengths to avoid it.
How does one deal with this disorder, or recognize if they have it? Well, look at the facts. If you spend so much as an hour a day trying to cover up or “hide” whatever it is you do not like about yourself (remember, it may be multiple parts of your body that you dislike, yet this only enhances the idea that you are suffering from BDD), or go to extreme lengths to fix it (I used to do anything I could to gain weight, though I had a fast metabolism, so nothing worked – even wolfing down 3 BigMac meals a day, as unhealthy as that may be, in an attempt to gain weight) then chances are you have it, and the first step is realizing that perhaps you are suffering more from a delusion or a diluted sense of self than you are an actual abnormality.
Step two is to check out the book: “The Broken Mirror” – which is a book that helped me deal with those trying times, and it will most likely help you, too. I am a specialist in Confidence and Self Esteem Coaching, and let me tell you, I love myself, especially my body. I began to take care of myself physically and mentally; I eat right; I work out…but guess what? When I look in the mirror I still find characteristics about myself that I hate. The only difference is, I know I am not good but great-looking, and because I am aware that it is a disease and not an actuality, I am able to face myself – even on those days when I just do not feel good about who I am, I am aware that it is just my own distorted perception. I am me, and I am proud.