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The Effects of Clothing on the Self-Esteem of Teen Girls

by Sheryl Faber

Wearing their best in clothing and accessories is essential to teenage girls. High school and the teen years are a time of attempting to fit in while still pursuing personal identities and trademarks. Fashion is so important to teen self-esteem -- a 2007 Packaged Facts study on the "Teen Market in the U.S." discovered that 42 percent of a working teen's paycheck was applied to clothing purchases.

Bolsters Confidence

Self-esteem can be greatly increased when confidence rises. Looking attractive and wearing clothes that are in style and fit well will help a student feel good about herself and her appearance. The right makeup, shoes and accessories are also important but it all starts with the right clothing. A young girl who is forced to wear hand-me-downs from older siblings will not feel as confident as a teen who wears new or trendy fashions to school on a regular basis. A teen who has no knowledge of how to dress and accessorize in current styles may feel ostracized and alienated.

Makes a Statement

Clothing makes a personal statement about individual teen girls. They may be athletic, girly, nerdy or a tomboy. The clothes worn will express personalities and preferences and girls will feel good wearing them because they are about themselves and their interests. To wear items outside of these boundaries would make them feel as if they were in costume or playing a childish dress-up game. Fashion is all about self-expression and, as a teen, feeling and dressing like a unique individual who is still inside the acceptable norms of style will make that teen stand out as exceptional and confident in herself and her choices.

A Sense of Belonging

What teens wear identify them as belonging to specific cliques or groups who wear similar apparel. It will give them a sense of belonging and togetherness with other students. They will feel included and wanted which is essential to a teen's self-esteem. Friends are important and wearing clothes similar but still distinctive to peers' apparel will make them feel they are on equal footing with that particular social grouping. Clinical psychologist and author Stephanie Newman states that "Girls use clothes, accessories and fashion to define themselves, make statements about their choice of peer group, and establish their psychological identities."

Opposite Sex Attraction

Teen girls usually want to attract the opposite sex. Wearing appealing and fashionable clothing will help entice teen boys to pay attention to them and make them feel desirable and sexy. Teen girls do have to be supervised closely, though, so they do not wear suggestive or revealing clothing items. To some, wearing suggestive styles may be about emulating a popular music or film personality.

Photo Credits

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