This post is also available in: French
A staggering 80 percent of 10-year-old girls in America have been on a diet, as per the Keep it Real Campaign. Not only that but most girls ages 11-17 have the main wish in life to be thinner. Shocking, right? There’s a real problem with body image in the U.S. There are many reasons for this issue, including the unrealistic standards set by celebrities on Instagram and glossy magazines. With girls seriously stressing out about their bodies, it has to stop. But how can we help girls have a more positive body image?
Be a Good Example of Positive Body Image
As women and mothers, recognize that you have a big influence in girls’ lives – just as much as celebrities. If you speak smack about your own body, then girls will hear it and think that it’s normal to hate their bodies. From there they might internalize the belief that it’s natural to want to be thin and perfect. So, start loving your body now.
Be Aware of Body-Based Media Messages
Raising a young girl? Then it’s a good idea to use websites like Media Smarts to stay on top of the topic. Stay up to date on the new ways that the media is making females feel bad about their bodies, no matter the age. Once you are aware of the issues, then you can help remove them from your child’s life.
Talk to Them about Positive Body Image
Taking the time as a strong woman in your own right to talk to the girls in your life about body image, such as tackling the subject of braces for teenagers and why they’re nothing to worry about, is more important than ever. Another great topic to share with girls is that it’s essential to build a healthy body rather than a skinny one.
When your teen sees how well you’re doing with an average body and when they can ask you questions about what they see in the media, they’ll get a new perspective. Then they’re more likely to question the media line on the female body.
Introduce Them to Healthy Role Models
There are lots of smart, successful, and yes even famous women who have average body types. They’re happy, healthy and living their dreams. The key is positive body image.
If you can, introduce your girl to some of these healthy-minded women. Then they will start to see that being a size 2 with perfect hair isn’t as important as the media says. You’re also supporting other women, which is awesome in its own right. It’ll raise us all up to be our best selves.
Don’t Focus on Looks
Instead of telling your girl that she is pretty, compliment her achievements. Praise her for getting an A on an important test or creating a beautiful piece of art. What you’re doing here is letting girls know that no matter how they look, they have value.
And that’s key to building a positive body image for them to then grow up to be empowered women. I mean, appearances are nowhere near as important as the 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.