It’s no secret that a young girl’s family plays a crucial role in shaping their perceptions about their body and creating beauty standards: family attitudes about weight and body size are associated with mental health problems and eating disorders. In today’s world, it’s even more important to approach these topics with grace and a plan to ensure that your child is set up to reach their full potential.
Realize that body shame is taught
As a parent, your words have an impact! Even as early as three years old, children associated larger sized people with negative characteristics. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this outcome was biased directly by their mother’s attitudes. Furthermore, older children displayed a stronger bias than younger children. Understanding that the choices and words you use as a parent to describe people or the praise that you give can have lasting effects on your child’s self esteem and body image.
In one study, “23% of participants reported appearance-related teasing by a parent, and 12% were teased by a parent about being heavy”. Teasing by parents was a predictor of depression and body dissatisfaction. Even if it’s light-hearted or “poking fun”, teasing has a lasting influence on your child’s life.
Social media’s role
Instagram and Snapchat seem to play a bigger role than Facebook because of their heavy focus on visuals. Posts categorized as “thinspiration” or “fitspiration” showed negative consequences on a girl due to the posts being used as comparisons. Consider going through your child’s feed together with them and talking about these posts as they come up.
Just as body shame is taught, so is body love. Having open and honest conversations with your child can make not only a difference in their relationship with their body, but also in their life.
Blog Post Adapted from: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20220819-the-best-way-to-teach-kids-body-confidence