In today’s society many girls and boys perceive themselves as “not good enough.”

Their lack of self-esteem is attributed to an unrealistic set of beauty standards. The definition of beauty seems to be set by celebrities who are tall, skinny, and overall perfect. They are categorized the “most gorgeous women of all time” by fashion magazines. Many teenage girls strive to be like Selena Gomez or Kim Kardashian. They’re constantly comparing themselves to their idols or their classmates who for some reason always seem to be more beautiful than they are. In reality, most teens don’t realize that their idols are as normal as the girl next door. These starlets look beautiful because they are always made-up, well-dressed, and ready to be photographed. They have the money to be pampered and catered to. Sadly, this false idea of beauty can often lead to severe problems such as self-mutilation, eating disorders, and depression, to name a few ―a parent’s worst nightmare.

Media, nowadays, are one of the biggest reasons girls and boys have self-esteem issues. In my opinion, however, peers are to blame as well; they are supposed to be your support system and sometimes you don’t get it from them either. Surrounding yourself with positive friends at school can be uplifting and beneficial for your self-esteem. If you have a friend that criticizes you all the time and never has anything positive to say about you, it will bring you down. I, for instance, experienced some negativity from someone who called herself a friend. She always judged the way I dressed. After a while, I realized this was not the type of people I wanted around me.

Another big factor that contributes to low self-esteem, believe it or not, is parents. As crazy as it sounds, it’s the truth. Parents can be bullies to their own children. Sometimes parents speak without thinking; they say something as a joke not realizing the child may take it seriously. For instance, the child may be looking for a snack and the parent would say, “You should go work out instead.” Parents think these comments are harmless, but they’re not. For teenagers in the prime of hormonal change, especially girls, appearance is everything.

A lot of teenagers have an idol they look up to or consider a role model. For me, Mark Foster is that celebrity; I consider him my idol. Through his music, his tweets, his charity work, and overall just being himself, I’ve learned so much. He’s been an inspiration. He recently climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise money in order to promote awareness of the clean water crisis: 780 million people lack access to clean water. Mark makes me want to strive to be a better person and most importantly, to be myself. Obviously, everyone has their own role model. Some look up to Kim Kardashian while others look up to the all-boy band, One Direction. You should look up to a celebrity for the right reasons and not merely on their appearance.

High school can be a vicious world but you have to be strong, take a stance, and follow your own voice. Remember, everyone is unique and beautiful in their own way. Surround yourself with friends who like you for who you are. In order to love others, you must first love yourself.