I see so many young people struggle with Body Image issues; whether it be an unhealthy focus on their weight, excessive control of their food consumption or disproportionate expectations on the shape and size of their body parts.
What seems to be causing these issues and how can we help young people struggling with their Body Image?
Being online in today’s modern world throws young people into a pool of images, accounts and opinions that make statements about what is healthy, what is acceptable and what is desirable. The nature of social media means a lot of unprofessional, misleading or damaging information can be made to look extremely credible, ideal and authentic. At an age where children are developing mentally and physically they can feel vulnerable and tend to seek out information on what is normal in order to help define themselves.
Having conscious and open discussions can help young people develop more balanced expectations of their bodies. Very often I see adults shut children down when they express a negative feeling or thought about their body, ‘Oh shoosh, you’re young and beautiful, you’ll be fine.’ Instead, try to explore where they got that idea or what made them feel a certain way. The more receptive you are with your kids, the easier they will find it to talk. It’s better than keeping it bottled inside!
Your Self Talk
As a parent, guardian, friend or teacher of young people, it is important to be aware of how you talk to and about yourself. Very often adults assume they are doing enough by encouraging the young people in their lives to be positive about their bodies, however, they pick up on how you talk about yourself! If you’re feeling down about your body, that’s ok – we all do! However, consider how you are verbalising that in front of young people and how you could change your words to reflect a more positive mindset.