Girls Body Image. What's It All About?
A Girls Body Image is the picture that she has of her body and what she thinks it looks like to other people.
Girls body image has become a concern not just in North America but now world wide.
Unfortunately for many North American girls, having a "model thin' figure is a real aspiration. In today's media dominated society, girls body image is everything. This phenomena is found in girls as young as five years old. Lack of self-esteem is at the bottom of it. But where do these girls get the idea that this is a normal way to look?
Continual bombardment from media in the form of TV, magazines, movies etc. have created an industry that prays on young people. We worship idols. These people who have perfect figures and symmetrical faces, have become role models for our children. They are photographed in soft light with diffused filters and are made up and air-brushed to within an inch of their life.(sorry) And our children will not measure up. The ones who do will have gone to great extremes and created a superficial life of stress, unhappiness,and illness.
Here are just a few statistics on eating disorders in North America:
* 8% of women suffer from either anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa
* the 3rd most common chronic illness in adolescent girls is eating disorder
* Almost one in five people in North America with eating disorders lose their lives
* 81% of ten year-olds and more than 46% of nine year-olds restrict their eating
*The fear of being fat is the greatest fear among young girls.
* It is estimated that 3% of women will be effected by eating disorders in their life time.
How do we combat this? How do we help our children to create a healthy self-esteem to avoid unhappiness, disease and even death?
So awareness,again, is the start of changing our behavior patterns.
Here are 10 steps to take ( as a parent) to change your own patterns and in turn change your childrens chance of having a preoccupation with their weight.
1) Examine your own attitudes, beliefs and prejudices about food, body image, weight and appearance.
2) Be aware of the expectations you have of your child in relation to eating and weight.
3) Avoid all reference to how much you weigh with regard to activities you can do, clothes you wear and food you eat.
4) Encourage healthy, balanced eating in your home and associate it with hunger.
5) As I mentioned before the most important thing that you can give your child is self-esteem. When parents show their children that they love them unconditionally they are stronger emotionally and able to deal with the challenges of life. It is the responsibility of both parents to help their children to develop healthy self-esteem. A fathers support and validation for his daughter is an extremely important component,also.
6) Encourage communication with your children. Help them to see that the trend in the media to idolize celebrities is not an example of reality. Let them talk freely and openly about things that matter to them. Let them know that those things matter to you, also.
7) Let your children know that their physical appearance is only a small aspect of who they are. Their talents, abilities, strengths and personality are far more important.
8) Challenge them to think for themselves. Let them know that their opinions can differ and be valid. They are much more likely to avoid media pressure.
9) Girls need to know that men are not the only authority and that they also have a lot to contribute. Times are changing and men and women are moving toward complete equality.
10) Encourage physical activity and help children to take care of and enjoy their bodies. Here is a short story that busts the myth that our physical appearance is #1.
My husband and I were chaperoning a grade twelve school dance. What young people think about themselves shows up well in social situations. There was a group of boys sitting on one side of the auditorium and a group of girls sitting on the other side. "Wallflowers" is what they are often called. You would think that the wallflowers would be plain and possibly a little over-weight. These kids were neither; just shy, I presume.
There was a hub of activity on the dance floor as a young cherubic girl was dancing and laughing with more than one boy. As the dance was over, she scanned the room and ran over to another boy to ask for a dance. He was overjoyed and joined in the fun.
Boys and girls alike were congregating around her. As I watched her, I saw that she was confident and secure in herself. She was not overweight by any means and neither was she made up and dressed up like the 'In Girls'. There was a girl who had grown up with a healthy self-esteem and the support to be the person that she wanted to be.
It's not about looks. It's about confidence. We are all attracted to the person with confidence.
" The greatest gift that you can give your child any minute of the day and any day of the year is Self-Esteem."