In our dietitian practice, we work with many teens and their families, and in the past few years, we’ve seen a growth in these numbers.
The stress and pressure our teens are under these days are heavier than in any generation that has come before us.
Sadly, the world has not yet learned how deeply this is affecting the mental health of this generation, nor have we changed our ways in this world of diet culture we live in, especially when it comes to the messages our children experience every single day.
Movies and commercials promote a negative body image for teens by portraying unrealistic and often unhealthy beauty standards. Some examples of these are:
- Movies and TV shows feature characters with idealized and often unrealistic bodies, such as extremely thin or muscular bodies. These images can create unrealistic expectations for how people, particularly teens, should look, leading to feelings of inadequacy or a negative body image.
- Ads for weight loss products or diet programs often use before-and-after photos or testimonials from people who have lost a significant amount of weight. These ads can create the impression to our teens that their worth or attractiveness is tied to their weight or size, which can contribute to negative body image and disordered eating behaviors.
- Many fashion and beauty ads feature models with photoshopped or digitally altered images, which can create unrealistic expectations for how one’s body should look. Seeing these images can lead to feelings of inadequacy or a negative body image if they feel they do not meet these unrealistic standards.
Below I share 3 steps to help teens improve their body image, please read and share this with your own teens or friends and family. Together we can change the messages our teens are getting day in and day out and help them live a life with more peace and acceptance of their own body and their worth.
We need to help our teens and they need to recognize that the images they see in the media are often unrealistic and that there is no one-size-fits-all definition of beauty. It is essential to focus on self-acceptance and self-care, rather than trying to conform to societal standards.
Here are three steps to help teens improve their body image:
- Practice self-acceptance. It is essential to recognize that no one is perfect and everyone has unique traits and characteristics. Focusing on self-acceptance means acknowledging and embracing your qualities rather than trying to change or hide them. This can involve learning to love and appreciate your body for what it can do rather than solely focusing on its appearance.
- Seek positive role models. Surrounding yourself with positive role models who embrace diversity and promote self-acceptance can help improve your body image. This can include finding people who embrace and celebrate their unique qualities or following social media accounts promoting body positivity and self-love.
- Engage in activities that promote self-care. Taking care of your physical and mental health can help improve your body image. This can involve engaging in activities that promote self-care, such as exercising, eating a healthy and balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and finding ways to manage stress. It is also important to seek professional help if you struggle with negative body image or eating disorders.
Now, I know you are probably thinking this list can seem like a challenge in itself to make happen with your teens… but it starts with the most important step.
Talk to your teens! Keep an open line of communication and let them know you are always there to talk, to discuss their concerns and even to find them some outside and impartial help if they need it. Because sometimes the hardest person for a teen to talk to is their family.
The best thing you can do is to just be there for your teens, so they know they have your support whenever it’s needed.
And if you feel they could benefit from professional support, please reach out to us. Our team specializes in working with teens and families like yours, you are not alone.
Book a call and talk to me today.
You can help your teens and kids develop a healthy relationship with food by starting with these 10 tips shared in this article.
Erica Leon is a Registered Dietitian and practices from a Health at Every Size (HAES®) lens. She is certified as an eating disorder specialist and is passionate about helping women at midlife, menopause and beyond to make peace with food and body image.
Erica is a highly sensitive nutrition therapist who takes the time to learn where you or your family are in the pursuit of health. Respectful of your individual needs and lifestyle, she will provide an honest assessment of whether or not you are a good fit to work together. Click here to schedule a 15-minute Discovery Call with Erica to let us know about your needs, and to see which of our Dietitians is the best fit for you!
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