According to CNN, it may be as young as 5 years. Starting at this young age, girls are becoming hyper aware of their bodies, more specifically, their “thinness”. By age 7, one in four girls have either restricted their eating or engaged in some form dieting to get closer to their ideal body weight. This is no longer a teenage problem.
Girls are being pressured to conform to perceived societal beauty standards. Although we know bodies on magazine covers are photoshopped, they still press in our minds as the ideal. This isn’t just about beauty anymore…it is about health. The pressure and anxiety girls are feeling to be “beautiful” are pushing them towards unhealthy practices. Negative body image and self-esteem can lead to eating-disorders, depression, relationships problems, and even long term health problems or struggles with addiction. It is time to stop the fat talk.
We want to turn that message around! We want our girls to know that they are…
B E A U T I F U L.
A lot of the negative body image comes from internal views of oneself, and when you can really shift that conversation from how does someone look to how does someone feel, then kids can really start to think about what their choices are and how they have control over how they feel, and that brings positive self-esteem and self-awareness.
What can you do to to support your daughter?
- Have a conversation. To really be able to understand what is going on with your daughter, you have to know what she is thinking. Engage her in conversation about body image and health. The more comfortable she is sharing with you, the more likely you will know if her thoughts or behaviors become unhealthy.
- Be a role model. As the article states, our girls learn from us. Show them what a strong, confident, beautiful woman looks like…everyone! Let them know that there is more to beauty than society’s standards. Give them confidence by showing them yours.
- Prioritize health. We were always taught of the connection between body weight and size and health. But, an ideal, healthy body for one woman looks completely different for another. Body size and health do not go hand in hand. Let your daughter know that she can be healthy at any size! By focusing her attention on being healthy, it becomes easier to shed negative thoughts. Instead of having her goal be to fit into a size 2, have it be to run 2 miles. Small differences can lead to big changes in your daughters mentality.
- Surround her with support. Let your daughter know that she is not the only one struggling with these thoughts about her body and her size. Nearly all women (dare I say all women) perceive flaws in their appearance, causing stress and anxiety. Make sure she is surrounded by positive voices and love. See if she wants to be involved in a volunteer program, sports team, mentoring program, or another type of group activity that encourages her to form strong friendships.
If you’re interested in reading the research article, click here…