One of the most challenging and critical problems that every healthy or obese child, teenager, or adult has to face at some point in their lives is body shaming. Sometimes, for a lifetime too.
Human beings are obsessed with their body weight. “Am I too skinny? Am I overweight?” in the past couple of years, body shaming has become a common term. Women of all shapes and sizes are being criticized harshly for being too small or too big, too thin, or too fat. Although both men and women are body shamed, women are more worried about their body image.
Teenage is an extremely sensitive and spontaneous phase in the life of a child. It is when they are growing accustomed to the various psychological and physical changes in their bodies and developing their personality traits. When it comes to body image, teenagers are quite vulnerable. Peer acceptance matters a lot to them, and high school years teach them to be superficial, urging them to look attractive all the time.
Since tweens and teenagers came on social media, online abuse has become one of the most worrying aspects of the web. The emotional impact of online body-shaming is severe. And teenagers fear to speak about it because if they do, the bully would call them a baby for telling parents/teachers about it. The teenagers who are chubby or on the healthier side bear snide and mean remarks daily. Body shaming has led teenagers to fall into depression, suffer from anxiety, low self-esteem, eating disorders, and even get into self-harm.
Is Body Shaming Getting Promoted?
Sadly, it is. The fashion industry, media, social media apps, as well as social media influencers somehow promote body shaming. Movies, music videos, and fashion brands hire petite models. All of this leads to the creation of an unhealthy image of self, in the minds of tweens and teens.
Everything from your food to your room to your vacation to your clothes has to be Instagram worthy – the new-age standard for measuring attractiveness and beauty. Sadly, our children are growing up in such times where it has become difficult to value differences.
Helping Teens with a Better Body Image
We are going to explain some key tips to help you with protecting your teens from being exposed to the malice of body shaming. Parents should talk with their teens and tell them how to fight both bullying and body shaming – both in the offline and online world.
Here is how parents can help their kids have a better body image:
Do not comment on their appearance
The first thing for promoting a healthy body image is to avoid commenting on your teen’s looks. Do not criticize your teen for being too thin or too fat. If he/she is overweight, they might already be the butt of every fat person joke. Support them in being healthy and adopting a healthy lifestyle. Praise their efforts and urge them to exercise daily and maintain healthy eating and sleeping habits.
If they have suddenly become too obsessed with how they look and how they should look, try to know if someone is bullying or body shaming them. Bullying leads to self-hate, low self-esteem, and a variety of eating disorders. Your child might not tell you, but you should be making a point to know if they have body image issues. If you believe that someone is bullying them, getting the help of one of the best parental control apps could let you see their conversations online and know what kind of people they are interacting with.
Be a Good Example Yourself
For your tweens and teens to have a better body image, you have to be the best example for them. You are the first people they see and learn from, and for most kids, their parents are their ideals. If you follow a healthy lifestyle, your kid is going to do the same.
First, be comfortable in your skin and treat your body well It is not being about losing or gaining weight but staying healthy. Be a healthy role model for them, and they would follow suit.
Know what are they posting
As the kids were born in the selfie world, their sense of acceptance has become dangerous to an extent. All it takes today is a few people to criticize your teen’s picture and push them down a hole. You have to teach your children that every picture is not for the internet. And always add the people you know on your social media accounts. Your account and personal information should not be public knowledge.
It takes a few minutes for something to go viral, and your picture/video could be shared/liked millions of times. And even if you remove it, there is no way of knowing how many saved it or downloaded it on their phone already. Before you post something online, ask yourself, would you want others or yourself to find this five years later? If not, it should not make its way to your account.
As parents, find the line between digital parenting and respecting privacy. Stay involved in what they do online. For that, getting the best parental control app in the market could help you.
Teach them about Self-Love
As parents, you have to be their biggest support system. Tell them that rather than becoming perfect and admiring their best features/traits only, they should learn to embrace their flaws as well. Nobody is perfect. It’s the flaws, paired with good habits, which makes a person unique. Teach them about self-love and how to accept one’s unique personality. They should love their perfect and not-so-perfect things about themselves and be proud.
Tell them to embrace their flaws, and stop being so hard on themselves. Just focus on being healthy. Some people are bit chubby, but in perfect health, while some look fine but could be suffering from mental health issues. Again, it is not about being fat or thin, but focusing on having a healthy body and following a healthy lifestyle.
If you have a child who you think might be suffering from body image issues, then make it a family thing to bring him/her out of that phase. Engage in healthy activities with him, keep healthy snacks around, and prepare nutritious meals. Ask everyone in the family to get active and take part in this regimen.