Body image issues are common in both boys and girls. Girls, however, tend to have more body image issues than boys. At least that’s what Carol Weston, author of Girltalk: All the Stuff Your Sister Never Told You and long-time columnist for Girls’ Life magazine, says in an interview about nurturing a healthy body image in girls with Denise Richardson for HowDini.com.
According to Weston, one out of four letters she receives from her followers are about body image issues, and most of them are about girls who complain about their breasts, their weight and their being teased about being fat. She says most of these girls are confused about how they look, and she wishes parents would help them get fit so they can feel good about the way they look and take care of the body image issues once and for all.
She says parents play a very big role in nurturing a healthy body image in girls. If a parent sees her daughter having body image issues but is actually looking nice or even great, then that parent must tell her that she actually looks great. Weston adds that if the parent believes it, then the daughter will also believe it.
However, if the daughter indeed has a negative body image centered on weight issues or perhaps acne, parents are in a position to help out. Instead of trying to make her feel better by saying she looks great, what you as a parent can do is bring her to a dermatologist if she has acne. If her body image issues revolve around weight problems, refrain from keeping the house stocked with junk food.
As for kids whose negative body image is so severe they ask for cosmetic surgery procedures such as breast reduction, breast enhancement or a nose job, parents should make it clear to them that they already look fine the way they are, and that nobody is perfect. The bottom-line to nurturing a healthy body image in girls—and boys for that matter—is helping your son and your daughter feel good about how they look.
Weston didn’t say much about exercise, so I’m saying it: instill in your kids a love for exercise. My kids spend a lot of time playing outside. I also take them hiking whenever I can. Taking them swimming is also great. With exercise, keeping them away from junk food and words of encouragement from you, you are already nurturing a healthy body image in girls and boys as well.
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