Teenage girls in America feel a lot of pressure when it comes to obtaining the ideal body. And, the statistics show it.
Most parents would assume this is due to magazines and social media images (either real or Photoshopped) that present zero body fat as the ideal. This is not always the case. A 2006 study researched the influences of body image issues and eating disorders among teens. They found that the most prominent influence is the pressure family and friends place on teens to be thin and gain more muscle.
As a parent, you want to be a positive and healthy influence in your daughter’s life. While you can’t make her like what she sees when she looks in the mirror, there are steps you can take to help her become more comfortable in her own skin.
Show Her You Love Yourself
Your daughter needs to see and hear a healthy attitude towards body image coming from you first. Start by listening to what you’re saying about yourself. Are you constantly critiquing yourself in a harsh manner? Do you talk about how much happier you’d be if you lost weight or had smaller pores or less cellulite? If so, you’re setting your daughter up to be unhappy with herself as well.
Model Healthy Eating Habits
Teach your daughter to have a healthy relationship with food. Food is fuel and it shouldn’t be used as a reward for a job well done or to nurture hurting emotions. If you both are overweight and want to improve your health, it’s perfectly okay to take a class on nutrition together. Learning is always empowering, just as long as you don’t obsess over food.
Encourage Healthy Activities
Being active can help raise confidence and self-esteem. Encourage her through your actions to spend time outdoors walking, playing sports or even gardening. Show her how incorporating exercise naturally can help her stay fit and healthy, and that you don’t have to overdo a good thing to get the results you want.
Compliment Her in a Healthy Way
Helping your daughter see herself in a new way can begin with a simple compliment. Just as words can be damaging, they can also be healing. “Wow! Your endurance is really improving! Just think how healthy your heart is becoming” would be a great compliment if she has started working out. Try not to say things like, “You’ve lost a lot of weight! I’m so proud of you!” Do you see the difference? One compliment is encouraging health while the other is encouraging your daughter to look a certain way, which can be very damaging and even lead to eating disorders.
Create a Love List
They say a person has a to do something 23 times to make it a habit. A love list is such a good idea when you’re helping your daughter get into the habit of loving herself. Sit down with her and help her create a list of things she loves about herself. It could be her quick wit, her compassion toward strangers or anything else. Pin the list up in a place she will see it on a daily basis and encourage her to read it every morning. The more she reads it, the more likely she’ll begin to believe it about herself.
How Greenbrier Academy for Girls Can Help
If your daughter is struggling with an unhealthy body image, our all-girls boarding school can help. We offer nutritious meals and a wide variety of outdoor activities she can take part in. These include sports, rock climbing, hiking, kayaking and more. In addition, our girls’ private boarding school has a body-positive vibe. She will receive therapy from our exceptional staff as well as encouragement and support from her peers. As your daughter learns to love herself, she will gain the confidence she needs to give and receive love from others as well.