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Teenagers are frequently presented with unrealistic ideals of male and female body types, as models and celebrities fill the screens and pages of the media. These images can lead to expectations and worries around body image, as teens focus on how they feel they should look.
Some teens may worry that they are over or underweight or, while others may aim for a toned or muscular appearance that may not come naturally. Parents have told us that they are becoming more aware of this issue and would like some guidance on how they can encourage their teenagers to have a healthy attitude towards body image.
As teenagers go through hormonal changes and new experiences, their bodies naturally change and grow. Their weight and shape can fluctuate, and their skin type can change, all of which can have an impact on their self-esteem and emotional state. Teenagers may also feel pressure from their friends to look a particular way. While your teenager is going through continual physical and emotional changes, they may become more sensitive to the emotional rollercoaster of hormonal mood swings.
Being a teenager can be a turbulent time. You can help promote a healthy attitude to body image by being a positive role model around the home. Try to avoid making comments on your own or others' body size and shape. Praise your teen’s strengths and talents, and make sure they know that you love them no matter what.
Have a relaxed conversation with your teenager to find out their thoughts on body image and any insecurities they may have about themselves. If you sense your teen is worried about their appearance, listen to their concerns without judgement and remind them that they can always come to you to talk about how they are feeling.
Remind your teen that the images they see in the media are not representative of reality, and that pictures are often digitally retouched to create a false sense of 'perfection'. Talk about peer pressure, and the idea that friends should accept each other for who they are and not what they look like or how much they weigh. Remember to check in on your own attitudes once in a while to make sure you are providing a positive example of these attitudes.
Encourage your teen to eat a healthy balanced diet which includes fruit and vegetables - try not to refer to 'good food' or 'bad food' as most things are fine to eat in moderation.