Body image is the picture we have in our head about the way we look and feel about our bodies. This can be a positive or a negative view.

If we don’t like our bodies then this can have a negative effect on our self-esteem. Images in magazines, films, TV or on the internet of people with supposedly ‘perfect bodies’ are likely to affect our body image. Most of us will never look like these celebrities whose photos have often been manipulated and if you take away the re-touching, stylist and the makeup you are left with an ordinary pretty face.

The great news is that we are all different and everyone is looking for different things in a friend or a partner. So seek out people who love you for what and who you are.

The easiest way to stay in shape and be healthy is to eat a sensible well balance diet and exercise, so keeping the amount of fizzy drinks, sugar and junk food to a small amount and get active. Take a look at www.lets-get.com for hints and tips on staying healthy.

The feeling of low self esteem and confidence can start a cycle of problems. Once you start to feel low you can get depressed and then you feel even worse about yourself and it can be difficult to break the cycle once you are in it. Thinking positive and having good self- esteem and confidence will improve your emotional well-being. Self-esteem is mainly about the opinion you have about yourself. If you think you have low self-esteem and tend to focus on your weaknesses and the negatives then you might want to think about changing this and getting some support if needed.

Having low self-esteem can affect school, relationships and your friends so it is important to tackle low self-esteem to boost positive thinking and well-being. For some tips to help you increase your self-esteem check out the Young Minds website at www.youngminds.org.uk.

Self-confidence is also very important in our life, and it doesn’t matter how old you are people who lack self-confidence can find it difficult to become successful; but this doesn’t mean you can’t!

The good news is that self-confidence can be learnt and built on. Start with small things and work yourself up to bigger challenges. Only you can improve your confidence and the belief you have in yourself.

What makes a healthy body?
Bodies come in all different shapes and sizes and in today’s world the many pressures to conform to a highly idealized body type can be overwhelming. Everywhere you turn you are faced with body size expectations that are not only unrealistic but often unhealthy. It’s time for a reality check.

Some people are tall, some are short, some people have curvy figures, others are straight and angular, and some people are naturally thin while others are genetically programmed to hold on to fat. So just what is normal, does anyone know?

The importance of a healthy body image
It is important to have healthy attitudes towards your body. The ideal body is a healthy body.

All body types are beautiful. The only time you should worry about your body is when it is unhealthy. By focusing more on health and less on looks you can see your body in a whole new light.

What is it? Sexual orientation relates to your feelings towards other guys and girls. Just because you might fancy someone who is the same sex as you doesn’t mean you are gay!

Some people from an early age are very sure of their sexuality and feel sure they are gay, not gay or should even not be the gender they are, while others discover this in later life. Some people who think they‘re gay because they have fallen for their friends of the same sex, do turn out to be gay and later find out it was just a crush.

If you feel confused, you are not alone. Relax, lots of people find themselves thinking about who they are attracted too; sometimes only time will tell.

Definitions of Sexuality
Heterosexual or Straight - someone who is sexually attracted to someone of the opposite sex i.e. girls like boys or boys like girls.

Bi sexual – a person who is attracted to both men and women, not always at the same time

Asexual - this is a person who doesn’t feel sexually attracted or respond sexually to others

Transgender - a person who sees themselves as one gender but is seen by other people to be another. Some transgender people have surgery to change their bodies.

Transsexual - a person who usually wants to become another sex. They could be straight or homosexual.

Homosexual or straight – attracted to the opposite gender.

Gay – usually used to describe men who are attracted to men, but can also be a general term.

Lesbian - is a women attracted to other women

Cross Dresser - a man who dresses and may act like a women, or a women who dresses and may act as a man. This doesn’t mean they want to become another gender or are not straight

There are some questions you could ask yourself to help determine if you are gay but there is no hard or fast rule. Even if you answer yes to these questions it doesn’t mean you are definitely gay. Take your time to explore your feelings:

1. If you dream about or crave a relationship with someone, does it involve someone of your same gender?
2. Have you ever had a crush or been in love with someone of your same gender?
3. Do you feel different from your friends and family who are in relationships with people of the opposite gender?
4. Are your feelings for those of the same gender?
5. Do you feel that a person of the same gender is the only one you’re able to love, share and care for?

You don’t need to tell anyone you are gay if you don’t want to, but if you want to live openly as a gay person you will need to come out. Many gay people start by telling a close friend or relation and gradually tell more people.

Being gay doesn’t mean you will never have a steady relationship. Many gay couples have long term relationships; some will adopt children and in some countries will marry. In England you can have a civil partnership, which means both people will have equal treatment in a wide range of legal matters.

Being gay doesn’t mean you are more likely to get AIDS or HIV. Everyone who has sex needs to be aware of STI’s, check out the STI page for more information.

It’s important to talk to people about how you feel, if you don’t have anyone close to you that you can confide in, then you can contact one of the special support groups that exist to help and give advice about sexuality.

For more information on support groups check out the ‘Where Can I?’ page.