With all the talk about dieting, work-out plans and how to drop those “last 10 lbs”–talk that will most likely never go away in the media or our culture–how is it possible for the younger generations of females to not automatically grow up with a body issue? There needs to be another goal–one as equally important as losing those last lbs–that includes teaching young women to love their bodies, flaws and all.
Recent studies have concluded that body issues are starting earlier and earlier each year–some as young as elementary school. Kids are being taught that “thinner is prettier” and doctors have concluded that one out of every three 10-14 year old girls is on a “diet”. A recent test of elementary and middle school girls concluded that 40% of them were dissatisfied with their weight. 40%! What are we teaching these young girls?! Their over-exposure to our media and super-thin culture has turned them into miniature adults, stressing out about “love handles” and having “the perfect shape”. This needs to be turned around, and fast, before the disease of body-hatred hits our toddlers. But how can each of us do our part to fix this?
Make sure you always talk to your child. Talk about the media and unhealthy body images right from the start. Young children do not have the ability to distinguish the difference between what’s on TV and what’s real, it is our job as a parent, aunt, mentor, sister, etc. to educate them about what they see on a day-to-day basis.
Teach children to eat healthy and live an active lifestyle, not to diet. They should look at healthy foods and exersise as a way to live a long life, not as a way to keep their waste a certain size.
Watch what you say around the young ones–they are like sponges. If they hear you talking about your “back fat” or the fact that you’d be perfect if you only “lost those last two inches”, they will see that as common and most likely mirror your thoughts and behaviors.
Boys are victims too– while 40% of our young girls saw a problem with their figures, 20% of boys saw themselves as imperfect as well. Teach your young men healthy ways as well.
Check out Dove.com. They have some ideas and ways we all can help young children grow up loving and cherishing themselves and the bodies they were given.