Do teens in your youth ministry know they are made in God’s image? Read on to discover how you can help young people with issues of self-esteem and body image.
For the third week in a row, I watched a junior higher struggle to complete the conditioning course before track practice. I don’t know why I hadn’t noticed before, but his clothes were three times too big. The baggy wardrobe was slowing him down. After talking to him about wearing clothes that fit and even calling his home, nothing changed.
One day I asked the boy why he was still wearing such large clothes. I suspected it wasn’t a fashion choice. After getting only a shrug in response, I changed tactics. I asked if he knew my son. Yes, he nodded.
“In fifth and sixth grade, my son was a little chubby,” I said. “Even though he lost a bunch of weight in seventh grade, he wore clothes that were too big. He wanted to hide his body because he wished it was different. Tell me if I’m wrong, but I think you might be feeling that way.”
The junior higher’s eyes widened as I hit the painful spot on the nose. “But your son is a beast,” he said, referring my sophomore’s workout routine.
“Let me tell you something,” I said. “He does that to help him feel in control of how his body looks. It took him until this year before he stopped wearing huge clothes. You’re athletic and work hard in track. I want to see you succeed. And as silly as it sounds, the baggy clothes are holding you back.”
The next day, the boy wore the same attire. One conversation wouldn’t undo his poor self-image.
Made in God’s Image Yet Struggling With Self-Esteem
The struggle started for me in junior high, too. My body changed, and a mouth full of braces marred my smile. Each morning in front of the mirror, I mentally dissected everything I wished I could change. Unfortunately, that habit lasted into adulthood.
I worked hard to keep my insecurity to myself. But my daughters and son started doing the same thing. They told me everything they didn’t like about their appearance and then tried hard to hide.