According to the Keep it Real Campaign, a staggering 80 percent of 10-year-old girls in America have been on a diet, and most girls aged between 11 and 17’s main wish in life is to become thinner. These are shocking facts that should sober us all to the reality that there’s a real problem with body image in the U.S.
Unrealistic standards set by celebrities, Instagram and glossy magazines have made our girls seriously stressed out about their bodies, and it has to stop. But how can we help?
Be a Good Example
As women and mothers, we should recognize that we play as much influence in our girls’ lives as celebrities and social media models. If we speak smack about our own bodies, then girls will hear it, and they will think that it’s normal to hate their bodies and natural to want to be thin and perfect in every way. So, start loving your own body now.
Be Aware of Body-Based Media Messages
If you’re raising a young girl, it’s a good idea to use websites like Media Smarts to stay abreast of the topic and keep up-to-date with the new and innovative ways that the media is making women and girls feel bad about their bodies. If you are aware of the issues, then you can start to tackle and eliminate them from your child’s life.
Talk to Them
Taking the time as a strong woman in your own right to talk to the girls in your life about body image, whether that’s tackling the subject of braces for teenagers and why they’re nothing to worry about or talking about the need to build a healthy body rather than a skinny one, has never been more vital. When they see how well you’re doing with your average body and when they can ask you questions about the things they see in the media, they’ll get a new perspective and be much more likely to question the media line on the female body.
Introduce Them to Positive Role Models
There are lots of smart, successful, and yes even famous women who have average body types and are happy, healthy and living their dreams anyway. If you can, introduce your girls to some of them, and they will start to see that being a size 2 with perfect hair isn’t as important as some media make it out to be.
Don’t Focus on Their Looks
Instead of telling your girl that she is pretty or offering a compliment on her hair, for example, compliment her on their achievements. Heap praise on them when they get an A on that important test or when they create a beautiful piece of art, and they’ll know that no matter how they look, they have value and they’ll grow to be empowered women in their own right. I mean, appearances are nowhere near as important as achievements or being a kind person, are they?
The more we do to bring down the perfect body myth, the better society will be for everyone.