We all want to change something about our appearance. Sometimes that's healthy, sometimes it's not so healthy. Read what our Mentors and experts have to say in response to kids' questions about this subject.
Advice Questions about How You Look:
- "I don't really have the best fashion sense in the world and I guess you're probably going to say that I should just be myself and people should like me for who I am. But, being a teenager (or pre-teen in my case) isn't about being out there, it's about fitting in. I see my friends wearing good clothes, and mine are OK. It's not that I want to be like them, I just want be in the same fashion zone. Any advice?"
- “I am really tall for my age, And I mean REALLY TALL. Almost everyone I know is shorter than me and can do everything better. And because I am tall, I weigh more than others, It makes me feel fat too, because I couldn't jump on a trampoline with a friend because the max weight is 300 lbs.! I’m 130! Can you help me?”
- “I have a "beauty mark" (as my parents call it) on my right cheek, and some people say I look beautiful, but I'm starting to doubt it's true. I know that it's what counts on the inside, not the outside, but sometimes people who are too judgmental make fun of me and call me "moley" or "mole face" and it really hurts my feelings. Sometimes I even come home crying. In 6th grade, even a 5th grader made fun of me! How do I just brush it off?”
- “I hate wearing shorts and tanks because I'm hairy all over and my mom and dad won't let me shave. I am 13 and everyone else is doing it. I feel very ugly. How should I go about this?”
- “I think my thighs are huge. I'm pretty, have a lot of friends, a boyfriend, and a lot of people like me. I'm a size 4 or 5 in jeans, and I want to be a size 2 again. When I go swimming, I always wear board shorts. I exercise, but only in gym, and I have that twice every day! What can I do to be smaller?”
- “I'm sort of hesitant about wearing makeup. I used to think makeup was totally stupid and fake looking, but now I think that if applied sparingly I could maybe improve my appearance. However, I don't want to overdo it. How much makeup can girls my age wear to school without looking like they're trying to be provocative? Sometimes girls get gossiped about because they wear too much all the time, and they also look a bit silly. Also, people sometimes wear makeup because they're insecure. I'm not insecure, and I don't want people to think that I'm uncomfortable in my shoes. I adamantly dislike eyeliner and mascara, but I sort of like eye shadow and lipstick. Can you give me any advice about how much to wear?”
- “I'm really skinny. I mean REALLY! My parents call me 'ottery', and ifyou've ever seen an otter, than you can probably imagine how skinny I am. But the bad thing is, my friends are larger than I am! I think when I wear tight shirts and jeans it makes them feel fat. I like wearing tight clothes, but I don't want to insult them (as in make them feel fat). What should I do?”
- “I have the biggest nose in the whole world! It's all fat and big! I don't know what to do! See, I used to have a lot of problems. For example, I used to be fat, so to fix it I started doing exercise, I used to be weak and couldn't defend myself, so to fix it I got into karate. I used to be short and I got really tall. Everybody says that I'm pretty and the most perfect girl but now I have problem I can't fix. What should I do? At what age can I get a nose job?”
- “I have been called ‘short’ since first grade. Now I’m in 5th grade, and I look like I'm in kindergarten! My 6-year-old cousin is as tall as me! What do I do?”
- “Okay, I am kind of gothic, and wear the whole black clothes thing and hot pink bracelets. I think it’s killing my chances of being asked out by guys, and that is a drag. I mean, all the people I know are dating and I hate feeling left out. What do I do?”
- “I'm very big-chested for my age. A ‘C’ actually. My friends always give me positive comments about my bust, but I'm not so sure if having them that big is a good thing because I feel I'm not ‘one of them.’ What should I do or how should I feel?”
- “I don't think I'm very pretty. There are all these girls at school who have awesome hair that's curly, or is done really neat, while I have red hair that's extra long and is always in a braid. There are also girls who wear make-up and nail polish, when my parents say I can't, but I don't know why. Pretty much everyone I know has that stuff. Could you help me?”
- “I know this is pretty odd to talk about to a person that you don't really know. I don't have anything on the 2 upper parts, if you know what I mean, and I am always embarrassed! Just today, I tried to look for a bathing suit
in the Juniors department, but none of them fit me. In the little girls section, they are too babyish!!! What should I do?”
- “I have a party coming up and we are going to be swimming, but I don't want to take part in it because I think I'm fat. All my friends are going to be there and I like swimming, but people make fun of my weight. What should
- "I have a sports day coming up, but I really don't want to take part. I think I'm fat because I have stretch marks on my legs. What should I do?"
- "My dad doesn't want me to shave [my legs], but my mom will let me if I'm up to it. What should I do?"
I'm very big-chested for my age. A ‘C’ actually. My friends always give me positive comments about my bust, but I'm not so sure if having them that big is a good thing because I feel I'm not ‘one of them.’ What should I do or how should I feel?
I completely understand your dilemma. My chest started growing when I was in the 4th grade, so by the time I was in middle school, I had the biggest chest in the entire school (which was about 300 girls!). I must have gotten compliments and positive comments about 'them' every day, and though I was grateful for the comments, I always felt weird because I was so different from all of my friends. I was especially embarrassed during P.E. when we had to change in the locker room, because I felt like all the other girls were gaping at my chest. So it's completely normal to have some misgivings about being a little different from your friends in that way. But you have to remember that everyone develops at different rates (clearly) and that it may take a couple of years for some of your friends to catch up, so to speak. The important thing is for you to learn to be comfortable with your body. So, you're a little different? Everyone's different. Be proud of your body and of yourself, thank people for their compliments, and remember that if anyone 'jokes around' with you about it, it's probably because they're jealous. Learn to love yourself and let your confidence shine.
--Rachel, IML Mentor
My cousin had the same issue growing up. And it seemed like it didn’t matter how much we applauded her and envied her, she was always uncomfortable. I guess it was because she stood out more than the rest of us, and that probably wasn’t the kind of attention she wanted. So, in her first year of high school she joined tall flags (in the marching band), and now she’s a junior and the captain of her squad. She found something that made her feel confident about herself, and focused attention on her real talents. I understand that having larger breasts than other girls can be uncomfortable, especially if you feel like everyone is concentrating on only that aspect of you. I have a feeling that you, like my friend, have talents that you can show off. You just need to pinpoint your favorite and go for it! Every one of us is different and we will all be set apart by something. Some of us are soccer champs, some of us are musicians, some of us are math whizzes, some of us are creative writers. You don’t feel like ‘one of them’ because you aren’t…none of us are like any other person in the world. Don’t feel set apart by your chest but rather by your gifts! So, find your gift and take it all the way!
--Vanessa, IML Mentor
Quite different from your case, I'm really flat-chested for a 16-year-old.
I'm only an 'A', but I feel great about my body anyway, and that is because
I've accepted myself for who I am and I have a lot of respect for my own
body. I don’t think you should worry about whether it's a 'good' thing
to be the way you are. Some people may be jealous of you, some may want to
be just like you, and some may be glad they DON”T have what you have. If others say positive things about your body, then you should just feel good about yourself and not think too much about it. If people make mean or nasty comments about your body, then you should just ignore them. Most importantly, remember that being ‘one of them’ doesn't mean that you've to be exactly like your friends in every way. Being part of a circle of friends only means that you are unique and special, and that you accept and respect each others'
--Joyce, IML Mentor
If we can’t accept our own bodies, then how can we expect others to accept them? I understand why you might not like your chest size. Other girls might be jealous, you can't wear the same clothes as your friend, and people might be giving you the wrong kind of attention. But give things time. Once you’re older, you might appreciate having the fuller figure that many women dream of having and even pay lots of money for! If you really feel self-conscious, perhaps you can talk to your mom about finding a ‘minimizer’ bra that will de-emphasize your chest until your friends catch up a bit. In the end, you are the only one who can decide how to feel about your body.
--Tiffany, IML Mentor
I don't think I'm very pretty. There are all these girls at school who have awesome hair that's curly, or is done really neat, while I have red hair that's extra long and is always in a braid. There are also girls who wear make-up and nail polish, when my parents say I can't, but I don't know why. Pretty much everyone I know has that stuff. Could you help me?
I know what you are going through. Most young women want to wear makeup just like I did and you do. I wasn’t allowed to wear make up until I was 14. I tried sneaking it before then, but it wasn’t worth all the arguments it caused between me and my mom. I didn’t want to wear makeup for ME, I just wanted to because everyone else did. My mom wanted me to realize that I was the same person no matter what I put on the outside, no more popular or even confident in myself. I had to realize I am beautiful no matter what. You, too, are beautiful! Every girl is beautiful, and more girls need to tell themselves so. Every time a negative thought about your looks creeps into your mind, I want you to immediately chase it away with the wonderful statement “I am beautiful!” I did this so many times it became a habit. Now, I am confident I am beautiful all the time on the outside, and most importantly, on the inside! (I actually don’t even wear make up unless it’s a special occasion.) Right now it might be hard, but eventually all those girls with the nail polish and makeup will be more worried about trying to be beautiful on the inside. You’ve got the chance to be a step ahead of them in that. Wait until your parents let you wear makeup, then experiment and have fun. Until that time comes, try other forms of expression like hairstyles, clothing, and a great attitude. Krystel, always love yourself!!
--Carren, IML Mentor
You know what? Most of my guy friends tell me that girls who wear makeup seem “fake,” and that they are much more attracted to girls with natural beauty. I know it sounds cliche, but what's on the inside is much more beautiful than what's on the outside. If you are in desperate need of a new hairdo, next time you get your hair cut, ask the stylist to show your some cool new looks for your hair, or try braiding it overnight and letting it out the next day. It's more important for you to like yourself than for anyone else to like you, so try pleasing yourself before pleasing the other kids in your class. If braiding your hair makes you happy, continue to do it. Believe in yourself, and people will believe in you too.
--Danielle, IML Mentor
I remember feeling the exact same way when I was your age! But believe me when I say that everyone goes through it! Those “pretty” girls you’re talking about might be thinking the same thing about you! Personally, I wish I had red hair! You have to understand that beauty is DEFINITELY in the eye of the beholder. One time at my summer camp, I liked this boy, but a friend who I thought was a lot "prettier" liked him too. He ended up liking me! However, if you really are uncomfortable with how you look, maybe you could start small: try sitting down with your parents and let them know that you think you are old enough to wear makeup and nail polish on special occasions. Remember, calmness is key! Show them you're responsible enough, and they just might agree to it. Just remember that no matter how much makeup you put on, everyone has his or her own beauty. Doing other things may make you feel beautiful as well! Try volunteering at an animal shelter or something that makes you feel great on the inside…that great feeling will shine through to the outside, too!
--Samantha, IML Mentor
Everyone is unique in her or his own way. Nobody looks the same and that makes everyone special. The fact that you don't look exactly like the other girls in your school doesn't mean you aren't pretty. Everyone has something about them that they don't like, but there are other things besides your hair that can make you pretty. Maybe you should try different hairstyles like a pony-tail or maybe letting it loose once in a while. There are so many people out there that wish they had natural red hair. That’s why so many girls are dying their hair now, so show it off! Make-up and nail polish does not make you prettier, your parents probably think that you are too young to use all those things but don't worry you will get older. Just try to feel confident and proud of yourself and the way you look. You are your own person!
--Julissa, IML Mentor
I know this is pretty odd to talk about to a person that you don't really know. I don't have anything on the 2 upper parts, if you know what I mean, and I am always embarrassed! Just today, I tried to look for a bathing suit in the Juniors department, but none of them fit me. In the little girls section, they are too babyish!!! What should I do?
All of us have some part of our body that we would like to change, and for you it just happens to be your chest. Think of it as a gift rather than a disadvantage. For instance, when other girls are forced to wear uncomfortable bras every day of the week, you don't need to. In that way you are lucky, trust me! Keep in mind, too, that finding bathing suits is a pain for all girls! Some are too small, some too big, some too flashy, some too ugly! There are bathing suits out there for everybody; you just haven't found the right one for you yet. Alicia, there’s a good chance that your chest will still develop, but in the meantime, try to appreciate that which makes you unique.
--Danielle, IML Mentor
Some girls start to develop their chest when they're 11, while others start as late as 14 or 15. It's just normal individual differences, so please don't worry. Starting late doesn't mean that you won't develop well. My sister started way earlier than I did and she kept laughing at my flat chest, but we turned out wearing the same size. It just has to do with when your puberty comes. Wear whatever you're comfortable with and try not to worry too much about things other than that.
--Joyce, IML Mentor
I know exactly what you’re talking about! Sometimes I think that the people who make clothes don't realize that everyone’s body is different and we don’t all have the same "Barbie doll" figure. Here's my suggestion: you might be able to find more mature-looking bathing suits in stores that sell "petite" clothing for adults. Also, lots of places now have “separates” that let you mix and match bathing suit tops and bottoms.
--Cyntianna, IML Mentor
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