Teens Look Beyond Just Appearances

Admit it. Every single person has had those moments in front of the mirror where they furrow their brows, roll their eyes and throw their hands up with frustration with what they see looking back. For centuries, teenagers—both boys and girl—have struggled with the issue of body image and an everlasting and often all-consuming desire to “fit in” and “look good.”

“Young people have been fighting with their bodies for years,” said Stanford Psychiatrist and Head of the Women’s Wellness Clinic Doctor Ellie Thabit. “[Teenagers] want to balance looking ‘normal’ with finding their individual style.”

Teens these days feel immense amounts of pressure to conform to the classic perception of what is “sexy.” Girls must have slim but toned and athletic frames. Guys need muscular arms, broad shoulders and six-pack abs to boot.

“I think girls look for the ‘bad boy’ personality and good looks—tall, tan athletic,” junior Derek Koehler said. “They usually don’t take the time to get to know the guys that are in odder-shaped packages.”

During a time when these teens should be experimenting with personal styles and becoming individuals, they become caught up in wearing the right fashions and maintaining the most socially acceptable weight.

“People just want to fit in,” junior Veronica Tse said. “It’s your choice if you really feel the need to change everything about you to feel attractive.”

Girls as well as boys are constantly struggling to find the right balance between blending in and standing out in a crowd.

“Everyone conforms,” Derek said. “Being different [separates] you from the social people, and no one wants to be alone.”

Pressure to look perfect comes from different sources. In a world where students have constant access to TV screens, computers and endless varieties of music, the media can have a strong effect on the way teens view themselves.

“[The media] portrays an unrealistic image that is nearly impossible to achieve,” Derek said. “What I see on TV … has been warped with makeup and editing and is not real. Yet for some reason, we all try to be like that.”

Most students feel pressure from everyone they encounter: friends, family and even pedestrians passing on the street.

“A lot [of pressure] comes from your friends,” sophomore Danny Auerbach said. “But you also get this vibe from strangers. They give you weird looks if you are not ‘fit.’”

Students put a lot of time and energy into looking conventionally “hot.” But deep down, is that classically “sexy” prototype really that attractive to everyone?

According to a poll conducted by The Talon, the majority of both males and females care most about a potential partner’s personality. Confidence, friendliness and a sense of humor are among the most desired traits.

“‘Sexy’ is when you feel comfortable in your own skin,” one polled male said.

When asked to choose which physical attribute was most important, 71 percent of girls and 53 percent of boys chose “face.” For both genders, a special emphasis was placed on eyes.

So although it may not seem as such, students really are looking for more than just cleavage and biceps; teenagers are seeking personal connections with each other.


“In relationships, it should be about making a match,” Thabit said. “If two people are compatible, they will find each other.”