How Puberty Shapes Our Body Image and Self-Esteem: A Crucial Discussion for Today's Youth

Jun 06, 2023

Vineeta Agrawal

How Puberty Shapes Our Body Image and Self-Esteem: A Crucial Discussion for Today's Youth

Puberty is a challenging time for adolescents and teens since it is marked by significant physical and emotional changes. For both boys and girls, it is a time of heightened insecurity and self-doubt as they struggle to navigate these changes. Coping with insecurities during puberty can be a daunting task, but it is essential for maintaining good mental health and self-esteem. In this blog, let us explore some common insecurities experienced during puberty and provide strategies for coping with them. Whether you are a teenager going through signs of puberty yourself or a parent trying to support your child through changes during puberty, this blog will provide useful insights and practical advice on puberty stages, second puberty or delayed puberty.

Why do we go through Puberty?

Puberty is a normal process of physical and mental changes in the human body that take place during adolescence. Sexual maturation and the passage from childhood to adolescence are marked by hormonal changes, which are natural signs of puberty.

The brain's hypothalamus regulates the beginning of puberty by inducing the pituitary gland to release hormones that cause the body to produce sex hormones. The physical changes that take place throughout puberty are brought on by these hormones, which include estrogen in females and testosterone in males. The start of puberty, which prepares the body for reproduction and ushers in adulthood, is an important developmental period. Some can attain early puberty or precocious puberty some can even have late puberty or delayed puberty since it is controlled by hormones.

Signs of puberty in females and males

Physical changes during puberty in females normally begin between the ages of 8 and 13 years and are characterised by the development of breasts and the beginning of menstruation. Whereas, the growth of the testicles and penis, are some of the tell-tale signs of puberty in boys, which normally begins between the ages of 9 and 14. Apart from these boys also undergo other changes in puberty like deepening of the voice. These alterations signal the passage from childhood to adulthood and prepare the body for reproduction.

The Impact of Puberty on Body Image and Self-esteem

Body image is our perception and attitude towards our own bodies. Self-esteem and body image are closely associated; it refers to how you view yourself as a person in light of your deeds and successes (or lack thereof) in life. Self-esteem during puberty can take a back seat for many adolescents and teens due to the various changes that occur during puberty.

Many children start comparing themselves to their peers when they notice signs of puberty. They might not like what they see.

Self-esteem Problems in Boys:

A boy feels uncomfortable about his changing physical appearance in height, weight, muscle size and voice changes. They could be trying to compare themselves with media images of an ‘ideal masculine physique’ and feel embarrassed when they don’t match up. They might also feel the social pressure of tags like ‘boys should be athletic’ or ‘boys don’t feel emotions’.

Self-esteem Problems in Girls:

Menstruation, changing breast size, and hormonal acne are some of the main effects of puberty noticed in girls. A girl faces constant self-esteem issues thinking about people making fun of her appearance and social pressures.

Tips for coping with insecurities during puberty

Here are some tips for coping with adolescence and body image issues that can be helpful if you are going through puberty. (4)

  1. A healthy lifestyle: A healthy diet that keeps you fit can also boost your confidence about your appearance while taking care of your bodily needs.
  2. Exercise: Physical exercise improves coordination, releases endorphins (the "feel good" hormones), increases blood flow to the brain and lowers our stress levels. All of these effects lead to an increase in confidence which you might need in both early puberty and late puberty.
  3. Self-Care: Take care of yourself both physically and emotionally by doing the activities you like and getting good sleep. Practising proper body care, and personal and intimate hygiene always helps.

  4. Challenge Negative Thoughts: Don’t let changes in puberty lower your self-esteem. Challenge any negative thoughts about any body image with positive affirmations.

Breaking the Stigma: Why Seeking Support is Crucial During Puberty & How to Find It

It always helps when you get proper guidance and information from the correct source. Speak to your parents or a trusted adult, like your teacher or anyone with whom you can share your thoughts and feelings for guidance. You can also seek professional help from a counsellor or therapist for mental wellness and low self-esteem during your puberty. (5)

Parents, how can you help your child undergoing puberty?

For a child, parents are their first guides. So as parents, guide your adolescent through different puberty stages. Here are a few things you can try.

  1. Communicate with your adolescent – conversations about complex topics at home always helps.
  2. Provide correct information – Try furnishing accurate information in age-appropriate language about body image, bodily changes, relationships etc.

  3. Offer support and reassurance - Let your child know you are always there.
  4. Encourage healthy habits - Encourage them to a balanced diet, regular exercise, and personal hygiene.
  5. Respect privacy: Allow your child to have privacy.

Monitor social media and technology use: In this digital age, you need to monitor the usage of technology and social media so that they get age-appropriate content and are protected against the harms of cyberbullying or other risky activities. (6) (7)


Remember that your child can successfully traverse puberty with your help and supervision because it is a normal and natural phase of the body. Puberty and adolescence can be difficult because of physical, emotional, and social changes. Teenagers may struggle with peer pressure, body image issues, and low self-esteem, among other problems. To aid teenagers through this process, parents, and other supportive adults can be very helpful. Eating a balanced diet, exercise, and personal hygiene are vital during these years. For girls especially, maintaining an excellent intimate care regime with safe personal hygiene products can help with boosting confidence, and maintaining body image. With adult guidance adolescents can build the skills and resilience they need to successfully navigate puberty and emerge as self-assured, healthy, and well-adjusted adults.