Young People’s Voices: Young People, Body Image and Self-Esteem

Continuing our new series of stories from our Young People’s Voices project – funded by Victorious Festival and supported by the University of Portsmouth – Lenti Ainhoasanjurjo, a pupil at St Edmund’s School, explains why body image matters, particularly for Portsmouth’s teenagers.

Body image: 9 simple letters, yet when turned into words, they have a greater impact on our self-esteem than many may realise, especially for teenagers.

Everyone can admit moments of feeling incapable of self-love, whether for a split second, for a day or even for a year. The way we feel about our bodies has an impact on our lives. As a teenager, how I view my body and what I think of it is very important, but learning to have self-love, is even more important. 

Everyone was made in a unique way so we mustn’t compare our features to anybody else’s, but it’s hard not to. It’s human nature to envy what we don’t have. However, what is really devastating is the society we’re surrounded by; teenagers are consumed by images from social media and ideas of what ‘true beauty’ looks like.

No one’s perfect but no one is imperfect either, we were all made to be different so there is no such thing as a perfect being. Some of us are short, some tall; some have brown hair, blonde, or red; we have different eye colours; and even our body shapes are different – no one was made to be the same, so why should what we define as beauty be the same?

Our body image doesn’t define who we are, it doesn’t determine whether we’re a good or a bad person or whether we’re pretty or not. These words are subjective and they’re just words: all humans are beautiful and no one should tell us otherwise. Everyone has insecurities that control us, but we also have the ability to be stronger than our thoughts and when that day comes, it is possible to embrace our insecurities and feel confident. 

So today, go look at yourself in the mirror and instead of labelling your flaws, name what you like about yourself. Turn your flaws into beauty. Once you are capable of self-love, only then will you be truly happy and ‘body image’ will become just two words with no deeper meaning behind them. And that’s what matters to me.


Further reading

NHS, 2017, Raising low self-esteem

UK Safer Internet Centre, Resources for 11-19s

UK Safer Internet Centre, Snapchat Checklist

UK Safer Internet Centre, 2017, Facebook Flyer

UK Safer Internet Centre, Twitter Checklist

UK Safer Internet Centre, Instagram Safety

Young Minds, Body Image


The Young People’s Voices project aims to provide young people with a platform to share their opinions, report on topics that affect them and advance standards of literacy. We worked with students from St Edmunds School and Havant and South Downs College to investigate and write their own stories, in a variety of styles and mediums – from creative memoir and opinion pieces to their own investigations. All their work will be published on S&C throughout July, and all participants have the chance to enter their work into a competition to read their story on the Spoken Word Stage at the 2019 Victorious Festival. You will find all the Young People’s Voices stories here as we publish them.


This project is supported by the University of Portsmouth, with thanks to the teams in Creative and Cultural Industries (CCI). It was delivered by University of Portsmouth MSc and PhD researchers Maddie Wallace and Lauren Jones.