A few days ago, my teen daughters’ friend was fat-shamed in school by her friends. They called her ‘fatso’ and ‘roly-poly’. They told her to eat less to lose weight. Then, a similar incident took place with my cousin’s teen son who has a big mole on his right cheek. Whenever he met his relatives, they would tell his parents to get rid of it through a medical procedure.
Teen children are at already a vulnerable stage of their life where they are attaining puberty and experiencing changes in their bodies. They become more conscious of their looks and also begin to discover sexuality. So, when they begin to receive comments about their body, they feel bad about it. Sometimes, they feel inferior to their body by watching celebrities or social media influencers who project a perfect body image. If the self-criticism or those from others continues, they may develop low self-esteem, anxiety or depression gradually.
Hence, it is crucial to deal with body image issues such as body weight, height, skin complexion, and facial features in your teenagers with sensitivity. Here are some tips to help you.
- Acknowledge Their Feelings
You can’t just brush your teenager’s body image struggles under the carpet. Don’t tell them to ignore or forget it because it is not an easy thing to do, especially when they get constant reminders about their body every day from friends or relatives.
Encourage them to talk about their feelings such as guilt, shame, etc. This will help you to understand what they are going through and to what extent negative thoughts are impacting their life.
- Have a Conversation About Body Positivity
Explain to your children the concept of body positivity. It means accepting the way you are and being comfortable with how you look. It is about feeling good about self rather than conforming to the parameters set by society.
- Help Them Lead a Healthy Lifestyle
While it is important to love your body the way it is, it should not come at the cost of poor health. Encourage your children to eat healthy food, avoid junk food as much as possible, hydrate themselves, and exercise at least for 30-45 minutes every day. When they feel fit and healthy, they will better about their body.
- Ask Them to Be Careful About What They Watch On Screen
Teenagers usually think that what they watch on television and social media, or in advertisements and films is their way of life. They feel that actors and influencers have perfect beauty and that’s how they should also be. Educate your children that most on-screen things are often projected in a different way to make them look glamorous to the audience. Things may not be always what they seem on screen. Teach them to appreciate people of all shapes and sizes.
If you feel that body image issues adversely impact the daily life of your teenagers and create emotional upheaval for them, then you should not hesitate to seek professional counselling for them.