Many young people, constantly bombarded with unattainable images of beauty, feel their own self-worth suffer in the form of body insecurities. In reality, people come in all shapes and sizes, and attractiveness is a subjective quality. Instead of focusing on negative thoughts about your body, try to develop a positive self-image and seek to date people who like you the way you are.

Body Image

Body image is an inner concept of a person's physical appearance, according to Naomi Weinshenker, M.D., in the Education.com article "Teenagers and Body Image." One’s personal body image may not actually match one’s physical appearance, which is where insecurity often comes into play. In one study of average-sized college-aged women, almost 75 percent said that they thought about body image concerns “all of the time” or “frequently," report health officials at Brown University. Forty-six percent of normal-weight college men said the same.

"Goodness of Fit"

Though men are becoming increasingly prone to body insecurities, more women by far tend to internalize negative body image from cultural messages about beauty. The “goodness of fit” model, proposed by psychologist Richard Lerner, theorizes that people negotiate their own psychological perceptions of their bodies based on the “normal” bodies they see around them and messages from family and friends about their looks; they do this in order to determine how they “fit in." With so many billboards, magazine ads and TV shows portraying an unattainable standard of beauty, it’s no wonder that many people compare themselves to airbrushed models and feel insecure about their physical appearance.

Developing Confidence When Dating

Many people who are overweight or face insecurities about body image encounter stress when dating because they fear they will be judged negatively by potential partners for their appearance, say the relationship advice columnists at eHarmony. To overcome insecurity, make a conscious effort to develop a healthy body image by focusing on what you like about yourself, buying clothing that accentuates your favorite features and seeking out people who like you for who you are. If someone does reject you when you’re dating, don’t immediately attribute that to your body. Facing rejection is part of dating, and, ultimately, you’re looking for the person who is a good fit for you.

Developing Healthy Body Image

Developing a healthy body image takes time and effort, especially in a society in which the beauty standard has become quite narrow. Yet it is possible to learn how to love yourself and your body. One way is to stay healthy, not by trying to reach some “perfect” weight or size, but by eating a balanced diet and partaking in regular, moderate exercise because doing so makes you feel good. Taking action to be healthy will boost your self-esteem. Ask what your partner likes about your appearance, and make a point to say positive things to yourself in the mirror as well. Ditch the negative self-talk and comparing; focus instead on being a whole, healthy, unique person.