Everyone, regardless of age or gender, has days when they don’t feel they look their best. Even models, actors and athletes can and have suffered with body image issues. This issue affects boys as well as girls.
What is body image?
Body image isn’t necessarily about how we actually are –it might have nothing to do with actual things like weight or height. It is based on your child’s own ideas about hard to define things like “attractiveness” or “coolness” which vary greatly from person to person. Puberty seems to be the “crunch point” for both boys and girls. Firstly, hormonal and growth changes begin to happen with puberty. Secondly, romantic relationships become a more regular feature of day to day life, making “looking good” a more important need.
What are the pressures?
• Society promotes that people who look “good” are more successful both academically and in their social lives.
• The media shows false images of beauty without revealing the tricks that they have used to create the image (e.g. air brushing, photo-shopping etc.)
• Young people who prioritise their physical appearance will likely struggle more with body image issues.
• Parents views of their own body image can impact on young people in a positive or negative way.
• Family members or friends who are critical of appearance or eating habits can also have a negative impact on a young person’s body image.
• Social media continues to have a strong influence ranging from the ‘ideal pictures’ of Instagram to the ‘likes’ of Facebook & Snapchat.
What can parents do about it
Be clear with your child that they need to feel okay about how they look, and not let their looks dominate their sense of self-worth.
• Sympathise with their concerns and validate the pressures they feel.
• Be positive about your own body, or at least not obviously negative.
• Both parents should be involved in promoting body image if possible – fathers play a particular role in supporting positive body image in girls.
• Have a relaxed conversation about how they feel about their body. Even if you strongly disagree with their views or think their concerns are unreasonable, parents should be careful not to invalidate their child’s feelings.
• Encourage your child to be active in other areas – such as clubs, sports or hobbies – where they can excel is a good way to ensure that their body image is not so central to their identity.
Rise Above – Body confidence boost
Interactive site with tips, videos, quizzes, celeb stories and more to help boost your body confidence.
Dove – Resources to help parents support and raise their child’s self-esteem.
This Girl Can – National campaign to inspire girls and women to get active, no matter how well they do it, how they look or even how red their face gets!
Body Gossip – Charity that inspires people to be creative and proud their bodies and what makes them unique! Read and share inspiring stories.
SYEDA – Local charity that helps anyone who feels that their relationship with food or body image dominates their lives. Men, women, girls, boys, young and old, all access our services.
Beat – UK eating disorder charity which can help you work out if you may have an eating disorder and offers support.
NHS Choices – Ways to identify and raise your self-esteem.
Childline – 5 top tips to help you feel better about yourself.
North Lincolnshire Young Voice 01724 298440 / 296384
Email – Young.email@example.com