Instilling a Positive Body Image in our Daughters

Growing up & reaching those dreaded teenage years can be very distressing on our daughters, they not only have to adjust to all the changes happening with their bodies but also with all the social pressures coming from school, her peer groups and the media.

As many as one-third of high school girls believe they are overweight, when they’re actually not. The fact is that these girls are so inspired by models and skinny actresses that the media portray as perfect women that they don’t want to follow the height-weight charts that doctors advise for them. Instead, they want to be lean and fit like movie stars so they can carry off similar clothes. But the truth is that teenage girls undergo hormonal changes and have a developing body which only means that their bodies will be fuller than that of a fashion model, as well as the fact that a fashion model virtually starves themselves to look the way they do.

Sadly, an unhealthy body image can make impressionable teenagers resort to crash dieting and even result in eating disorders. Both anorexia and bulimia have severe health-damaging consequences.

If you want your daughter to see beauty in her body, you need to take a close look at how you speak of your own. Most young girls find their mums beautiful, so imagine how they feel when you as a mother do nothing but put yourself down, the way you feel about your own body influences the way your daughter will feel about hers. Speaking kindly of your own body and respecting in by healthy eating and exercise will give her the permission to do the same with hers.

Ways in which we can help our daughters achieve a healthy body image.

1. Be A Good Role Model

Encourage a balanced diet and regular exercise. And if your daughter feels she is fat, don’t disregard her point of view. Instead, make a pact with her that you will help her out and cook healthier meals and go on long brisk walks with her. This way, she will believe that you are a friend she can depend on and will learn healthier alternatives to losing weight.

2. Talk About Media Messages

If you feel she is easily impressed by certain movie actresses and models and wishes to look like them, have a talk with her about how the media distorts beauty. Since it’s impossible to shield our daughters from our society’s unhealthy messages about beauty, we can use those same messages to open a dialogue about how things aren’t necessarily what they seem. Critical thinking skills are one of the best tools we can offer our daughters.

3. Discuss Eating Disorders And Their Implications

If you are scared your child may resort to unhealthy means to lose weight, have a talk with her. Explain to her how a developing body needs a certain amount of nutrition, and failing to provide that can have serious repercussions.

4. Get Help

If all else fails and you are concerned about the amount of weight she is losing, take her to an expert. Together a paediatrician and a child psychologist can make a whole lot of difference.

Encouraging a healthy body image in your teenage daughter is something you must take seriously. If you play an active part in your daughter’s life you can instil healthy eating habits and a good body image in her.

WAU SouthOz

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