Unhappy With Your Looks?

Feeling down about the way you look can be a real drag. It affects the way you feel about yourself, and the way you relate to others.


One reason you may be feeling bad is that you’re probably too critical of yourself. You might feel better if you understand some of the strange things that can happen to your body during your teen years your arms, hands, feet and legs are probably growing faster than the rest of you. This can make you look and feel awkward and clumsy. Your body may be shooting up, and you’re not filling out. The oil glands in your skin may also be going wild. In the teen years, these glands produce too much oil, which often causes blackheads, whiteheads, pimples and greasy hair. Most teens have these problems, and you shouldn’t be too upset by them. Eventually the rest of your body will catch up to those parts of you that are growing very fast now. Your skin glands will stop pouring out the oil that’s now causing skin problems. It’s true, you really don’t need all these hassles now — but they are a natural part of your physical growth. Remember also that the problem is not a permanent one.

Besides being too critical about the way you look, it’s also pretty easy to be unrealistic about what you should look like, or want to look like. Most of us at one time or another wish that we could look like someone else –a movie star or model, or someone we know. Sometimes we feel that we’d give anything if one or two of our features were totally different — like a decent nose instead of the beak we’re born with. These feelings are quite normal. But you have to be careful not to let your fantasies make reality miserable for you. If you do, it’ll be hard for you to accept the way you do look.

Our society doesn’t do much to help us accept our unique looks, either. We’re constantly reminded in magazines and TV commercials that only certain kinds of faces and bodies are considered beautiful, or handsome. The further away your face and body are from these ideal types, more “out of it” you feel. This is dumb, but it happens to everyone. Try not to get down on yourself because you don’t happen to look like Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt.

If you don’t like the way you look, don’t just say to yourself, “I’m ugly,” and then hang it up. First, find out exactly what you don’t like about yourself. Then see if you can change it. Let’s say you hate your hair because it’s too stringy or too fuzzy or whatever. Find a professional hair stylist who knows what type of hair style would look best on you. Or, if you have a skin problem, see your family doctor or a dermatologist. Getting professional help is better than picking away at your face or hiding yourself away. The point is, don’t blindly accept what you dislike, without first finding out if you can change it. We’re also going to mention that if you’re having a weight or skin problem, it might help if you call our tapes on those subjects for more specific information.

If you’ve really tried to change what you don’t like about your looks and it doesn’t work — don’t give up. Emphasize your good qualities. Many people make the mistake of letting everything go to pot when there’s only one thing that they don’t like about their looks. For example, if an overweight guy gave up on trying to lose weight and also decided that it wasn’t worth the hassle to keep himself neat and clean because it didn’t matter anyway, you probably wouldn’t even notice if he had the greatest looking hair and face in the world. All you’d see is his dirty hair, sloppy clothes and the weight. If he kept himself neat and clean, his weight problem wouldn’t be that noticeable.

Finally, we’d like to say something about your personality. We know you’ve heard it a thousand times before, and you’re probably groaning right now. But it does work: Try smiling and being more positive about yourself. You’ll find that people will start reacting more positively toward you and, as a result, you’ll start feeling better about yourself.

We’ve said you shouldn’t be too critical of your looks because your body is now going through a growing stage where it’s doing some pretty strange things. Don’t torture yourself by comparing yourself to unrealistic ideals of physical beauty that you have, or that society tries to sell us. We’ve suggested that you try a problem-solving approach. Define exactly what the problem is. If you can change it — do it. If you can’t, don’t give up. Try using your good qualities and personality to your advantage.

You’ve heard the saying, “Have the serenity to accept the things you cannot change, the courage to change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” It’s a good thing to remember when you’re trying to cope with the way you look.

For additional support and resources please call our 24-hour Teen Hotline by dialing 2-1-1 or 954-567-8336 (TEEN.)

Teen Tapes is produced by the University of Wisconsin, Madison.