Body Image Issues

2:01 pmin Articles, Ask the Coach Rosemary Strembicki

Body issues

My elementary aged daughter has always been a free spirit when it comes to the outfits she likes to wear.  But suddenly she’s coming home from school saying she is feeling fat (she’s at a very appropriate weight) and that she needs some fancier skirts like the other girls.  I don’t want her to change because of what other people are saying but I don’t know if she’s just changing or bowing to peer pressure.  Help!

(NOTE:  There is an increase in adolescent boys dealing with body image issues also but we will be address the original question in our answer.)    

Body image for growing girls is a very serious concern with all of the unrealistic media imagery our children are exposed to.  They’re constantly bombarded with pictures of “perfect bodies” that have been manipulated and retouched to create the mass market’s ideal.  Once that image is created peer pressure maintains it and girls have difficulty determining what’s right for them as individuals. 

As parents, we have to be very conscious of how the media influence creeps into our attitudes and what we model for our children.  The language that we use when talking about our expectations and ourselves can determine the choices they make.  So the first step is to assess how you talk about body image in your household. 

Here are some thoughts to consider: 

  • What comments do you make about your own personal appearance and those of women in the media?  Do you talk more about how they look or what they do?
  • Talk to your daughter about how we look reflects who we are and help her determine what she likes about herself that she wants the world to see.  Does she value her creativity and free spirit as much as you do? Does she take pride in her good health and realize the sacrifices that sometimes need to be made in order to look like everybody else? 
  • Who are her role models and why?

This can be a wonderful opportunity to let you help your daughter know herself better and convey to her what you think is important.  Keep in mind that what she sees and hears at home are the greatest lessons right now and take advantage of your concern to tell her how you see her and what you love about her.

Questions to consider:

  • How do I feel about my body?
  • What does my daughter hear me say about the way I look or what I wear?
  • Am I being a good role model?

Conversation starters:

  • The world seems to value what people look like on the outside.  While we want to put our best foot forward, it really is what’s on the inside that matters most.  Tell me three things you really like about yourself.
  • As you get older there’s a lot of pressure to look like or act like people we perceive as popular.  But each of us is unique and the real goal in life is to embrace who we are and become the best version of ourselves. 
  • You know what I love most about you . . .

 

 

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