"I'm Fat": Adolescent Girls and Body Image

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photo by Peajewel.

Muwaah! Keara loves herself!

Girls and body image. This issue is not going away.

An anonymous mother wants to know how to help her 10-year-old daughter get over her negative body image.

Check this out. "Suddenly, my 10 y.o. SD is mentioning 2-3 times a day how fat she is, which she is not...Her dad is not worried, but he has not seen the ravages of eating disorders affect his family and friends. Am I over reacting? What can I do to make her not care, or at least want to take control and make good decisions so she can feel better about herself?"

There is something jolting about the idea of a 10-year-old disliking anything about herself, but the reality is, for girls the struggle with body image starts early.

From socialworkers.org: U.S. society places great value on looks and exalts images unachievable by most. For example, fashion models weigh 23 percent less than the average female, although these representations are perceived to be normal...girls are often targeted by media and social body image ideals and are more likely to suffer negative health outcomes associated with body dissatisfaction. Consider the following:

  • According to a survey of adolescent girls, the media was identified as the primary source of information about health issues
  • A study of mass media magazines revealed that women's magazines had 10.5 times more advertisements and articles promoting weight loss than men's magazines
  • Frequent music video viewing may be a risk factor for increased perceived importance of appearance and increased weight concerns among adolescent girls 

As moms, we have a lot to do to begin to turn the tide for our girl children. One major starting point is not letting our daughters witness our own body image and self-esteem issues. Girls have to be reminded about their value to the world--outside of the physical. I'd suggest this anon mom shift the focus and engage with her SD around her talents, interests and hobbies. What would you suggest?

 

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