What is Self-Image?

According to Google, self-image is “the idea one has of one’s abilities, appearance, and personality.”

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Self-image is one of the most common themes in Young Adult literature.  Self-image can cover a range of topics from perception of beauty or physical attraction to intelligence, athletic and artistic ability, and more.  The term “self-image” is most commonly referred to when discussing how to tackle a negative self-image and how a negative self-image can impact the development of a young adult in terms of perception, world-view, and ideas of self-worth.

Self-image and bullying are also often mentioned in the same context. A common myth is that people with a low self-image can be aggressive and insecure, causing them to lash out and even bully others. While this is possible and does appear in both lived social worlds and Young Adult literature from time to time, studies have concluded that there is no reliable connection between bullies and low-self image. Nonetheless ideas of self-worth can create a vicious dichotomy that results in bullying, harassment, and even violence.

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Often, the effects of harassment and abuse can have consequences for the victims relating to self-image.  Victims of abuse have been known to grown up questioning  their self-worth, second guessing their abilities, reporting more cases of depression and anxiety,  and in some cases even committing suicide.  Self-image is a delicate, often fluid scale. Victims and others with low self-esteem can repair their self-image if they are surrounded by others that support and encourage their strengths and acknowledge but do not dwell on their weaknesses.  As adults, it is important to offer encouragement and support but also encourage adolescents to stand up for themselves and take pride in their own work and abilities.

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