Most of us have at one time or another had a negative view of our bodies. This may be a small part of your body shape or a part of your body that you are self-conscious about. For some people this is a feeling that doesn’t go away and becomes a constant concern resulting sometimes in a negative self-perception a lack of confidence in social situations and in some circumstances self-loathing.
Some of the facts:
- 34% of adolescent boys and 49% of girls have been on a diet to change their body.
- 60% of adults report that they feel ashamed of the way they look.
- 42% of girls and young women feel that the most negative part about being a female is the pressure to look attractive.
- 1/3 of men would sacrifice a year of their life to achieve their ideal body.
As you can see by the facts above, this has unfortunately become a common issue in today’s society with the media seemingly fixated on scrutinising celebrity’s bodies and the world of advertising setting unrealistic and sometimes inhuman standards of beauty. Such messages can be damaging to adults and most crucially young people who will be lead to believe that they should aim to look like these famous figures when in fact, young people should be learning to celebrate their diversities with a focus on being happy, healthy and confident.
Social Media and Self-Image
Social media is unfortunately a platform used for body-shaming. Because of the image heavy nature of these platforms, the focus is often on people’s photos. The facility for users to comment on people’s photos invites the opportunity for negative exchanges and due to the availability of social media on computers, phones and laptops, it is hard to monitor this.
How Encouraging an Open Dialogue Can Help:
Firstly, try to have a conversation with your child about what is and isn’t a good idea to share on social media. Not only do revealing images pose a threat to your child’s privacy but they also invite others to make unwanted or sometimes unpleasant comments about this sort of content.
Secondly, explain or discuss the idea of “trolling” with that young person or simply bring it up in conversation. Trolling is a form of internet bullying where users will attempt to evoke a reaction from someone else by being offensive or aggressive through their online persona. Talk about the right and wrong ways to react to this, what to do in situations where that person might feel vulnerable to online trolls and the importance in reporting this behaviour.
Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign – www.huffingtonpost.com
Encouraging a young person to get into sport is a great way to get them focusing on something that will keep them fit with the potential to develop into a hobby and that creates an opportunity to make new friends.
The best way to encourage exercise is to practice what you preach! That means getting involved, participating in some sort of sport or physical activity as a regular part of your weekly routine. If possible, try and find a sport that you enjoy together.
Doing exercise with your child will benefit them not only in encouraging them to be active and enjoy exercise but it allows you an opportunity to support your child and praise them for their physical attributes which is all part of developing a positive self-image.
A Healthy Attitude to Food
It is crucial to teach young people the joys of food! Few of us consider the impact that your attitudes to food have on those around you. Habits such as “yoyo dieting”, binge eating and starving yourself can all contribute to a young person’s perception of food and eating.
Have three meals a day:
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are important and should not be missed! Try not to skip meals and if possible, eat at least one meal together a day.
Encourage a varied diet:
Introduce a variety of fruits vegetables, meats and carbohydrates into meal times. The more colourful your meal the better!
Make cooking fun:
Get young people involved in preparing your meals. Try new recipes together and have fun with it! It’s a great way to get people interested in and familiar with the food that they are eating.
Safeline’s Young People’s Projects
Safeline believe in keeping young people safe wherever they are, virtually or in their day to day lives. That’s why we run courses and workshops with schools about issues such as bullying, online safety, drugs and alcohol abuse and other invaluable subjects. Contact us to find out more information or visit our Young People’s page to read about our other services.
All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image – ncb.org.uk