When the evil of “desire to be different” grows in young people


Each generation follows the generally accepted canons of beauty, but with the advent of social networks, the malaise from the feeling of “inadequacy” creates psychological discomfort.

Starting with Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and ending with Cindy Crawford, Monica Belucci and Gigi Hadid, every decade has had its beauty icons, and the canons very often turned out to be antipodes. From the sensuality of the most provocative forms to the simplicity of a more petite and refined figure, from an athletic and muscular body to a skeletal one, up to the present day, where a form of “healthy” thinness, with curves, is sponsored. bright, lively faces in the right places.

Beauty is all around us: movies, magazines, sculptures.

How often do you focus on a beautiful and perfect face and body, rather than a more anonymous one with flaws? How often do you try to change the appearance of a sloppy and ordinary person, to make him beautiful and important? Several films are also based on this concept.

If at first all this may seem cute and funny, then, after thinking carefully, you wonder why this is happening.

Those who experience the most pressure and consequences in this regard are undoubtedly young people. How often do teenagers become the target of comments about their appearance, even from their peers? How many of them can slip them off? How many are not? The problem is precisely this: seemingly insignificant remarks can have a big impact on a person, especially at a delicate moment of growing up.

Social media image

The advent of social media has taken the notion of appearance to the extreme and dragged even those who are not interested in it into the maelstrom of appearance. Therefore, we are faced with episodes of bodyshaming and cyberbullying that affect both boys and girls and lead to tragic consequences such as eating disorders, self-doubt, depression, self-harm, all manifestations of the inability to love yourself for who you are.

On the other hand, albeit in a different context, the great Bob Marley said in the 70s that “as long as skin color is more important than eye color, there will be war” and everything seems to continue to prove him right, expanding the scope of these words.

However, positive messages also come from social media such as TikTok or Instagram: many young people show themselves without filters and try to use these powerful vehicles to convey deeper values ​​and content, such as being serene about their shortcomings, appreciating their body . as it is, trying to improve it with the right make-up and appropriate clothes, talk about your good or bad experience so that they can help at least one person.

Something is changing

Fortunately, something is changing not only online: there are many webinars and meetings on these issues in schools, listening centers have been activated for both parents and students since elementary school; for example, in 2018, the government also established National Lilac Onion Day to celebrate eating disorders.

The fact that some things are improving indicates the evolution of civilization: it seems that the time has come when important things are valued, such as skills, intelligence, determination, feelings, and not something ephemeral, like appearance, which, however, relentlessly affected by the passage of time, and he is destined to disappear.

Psychologist Christina Armosino explains how to respond to a call for help

How has the attitude of teenagers towards their bodies changed over the years?

During adolescence, the relationship with the body takes over, causing a sense of alienation from it, and experiencing new emotions, much more complex and articulated than in childhood. The desire to improve one’s appearance in order to fit, to be fashionable, to belong to a group is a concept that is repeated and further reinforced today because of the role that image plays in a society so tied to appearance.

What are the main “damages” faced by young people?

There are those who immediately feel in harmony with the “new” body, and those who experience deep insecurity: they feel inadequate, fragile and seek constant reassurance. In adolescents, body and action precede thought and reflection. That is why they impulsively take out their anger, powerlessness and misunderstanding on a body that they no longer recognize as their own. Self-directed cuts and eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are the most common and well-known. The body speaks instead of words: severe headaches, stomach pains, vomiting, tachycardia, fainting, a feeling of lack of air, panic attacks express their deep discomfort.

What role do social networks play?

The Internet and social networks have changed a number of paradigms: beauty is often associated with success, the body expresses a measure of social value, the female image is distorted, normality is denied, old age is erased. This is a way to connect with others, but they can exacerbate the anxiety or vulnerability that is already present offline. Exposure to manipulated images generates a desire to get closer to peer models as well as celebrities, which is unattainable in most cases. Although many materials are born with the intent to promote healthy eating and physical activity, they end up promoting unattainable results that lead to frustration, body dissatisfaction, stress, and even pathological disorders. It is necessary to ensure that the use of social networks does not undermine self-esteem, making children victims of body shaming and body dysmorphic disorder. Most of the images are not real: any with photo editing looks flawless.

Who can they ask for help?

First of all, the family. For starters, the parent could remember past times: I wonder what kind of boy he was, what desires and fantasies he had, what kind of riots he staged, how he behaved with his parents. This exercise will help you feel closer to your child. If that’s not enough, reaching out to a professional can help you see things in a different light. Psychotherapy can be supportive both for the boy, who feels that his manifestations of discomfort are welcome, and for the parents, who, having shared the burden of this delicate stage of growing up, feel understood.

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