Inner & Outer Beauty in Teenagers

By Kristine Tucker
Teenagers often focus on outer beauty to impress peers.
Teenagers often focus on outer beauty to impress peers.

Teenagers often focus on their physical appearance and forget to weigh their inner strengths. Society idealizes supermodels, athletes and attractive movie stars and pop singers, so teens often feel motivated to keep up with their physical attributes but aren't as focused on their interpersonal skills and values. Parents can help their teenager develop a healthier self-image by focusing on positive character traits and inner beauty. They can also encourage nutritious eating habits, proper hygiene and exercise so their teenager has a healthy outward appearance.

Societal Expectations

Because of societal expectations, teenagers often think physical beauty outweighs inner beauty. Digitally altered faces and bodies are imprinted on their minds as normative, leaving teenagers little room to diverge from common expectations of beauty, says psychologist Vivian Diller at Internal qualities such as kindness, generosity, fairness and respect aren't always visible to the naked eye, so they are frequently overlooked. Parents can help their teenager deal with societal demands by praising her for making sound decisions that require positive character traits. They can compliment their teen for her healthy outward appearance too, but place a higher priority on her inner qualities.

Long-term Goals

Some teens are more likely to focus on inner beauty than outer beauty when their long-term goals aren't centered around physical appearance. Teenagers who want to get into good colleges focus on academics. Those who want to create music, focus on their musical talents. Teens who want to excel in sports focus on their athletic skills. Teenagers who think short-term often get caught in the beauty trap because they expect immediate popularity and want instant rewards for their physical appearance.

True Friendships

Stories about teen girls falling for guys who live on the wrong side of the tracks and teen boys falling for nerdy girls fill books and populate movie screens. That's because deep down, most teens want true friendships. Teenagers who look for inner qualities often find lasting romantic and platonic relationships. True friends care more about inner traits, such as loyalty, truthfulness, compassion and forgiveness than outward beauty. Physical beauty eventually fades, but love and respect can last a lifetime.

Healthy Combination

Teenagers don't have to choose between physical beauty and inner beauty -- it is possible to have both. Teens who eat right, develop healthy sleep and exercise habits and practice personal hygiene can have an attractive physical appearance without sacrificing inner qualities. Parents can model balanced living by showcasing admirable inner traits and taking care of their physical appearance. A teen can learn that the combination of inner beauty and healthy living is the best way to ensure a healthy self-esteem.

About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.