5 Ways You May be Damaging Your Daughter's Body Image

Body image issues in teens
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Many of today’s teens have insecurities about their appearance. Girls are especially at risk for disliking their bodies – especially their size. Unfortunately, many parents are contributing to their daughter’s poor self-image without even knowing.

Here are the top five ways parents inadvertently damage their daughters’ body image:

1. You’re a Poor Role Model

Criticizing your appearance will teach your daughter to do the same.

Saying things like, “I don’t have any clothes that look good on me,” or “I’m never wearing a bathing suit in public,” will have a profound effect on your daughter.

Your relationship with food will also rub off on your daughter. If you’re a yo-yo dieter, or you use food to stuff your feelings, she’s likely to do the same. It’s important to role model healthy habits and a positive self-image.

2. You Don’t Talk About the Media

The media sends a lot of harmful messages to teens about their appearance. Magazines portray underweight models. Advertisements claim certain products will make her look beautiful. And movies depict thin people as being happier and more successful.

Talk to your daughter about the images that bombard her on a daily basis. Help her see how advertisements often try to play to people’s insecurities. Explain how many of the images she sees in magazines just aren’t realistic. Teach her to be media savvy, and limit her media exposure.

3. You Compare Yourself to Other People

Comparing yourself to other people will teach your daughter to do the same. Whether you talk about your neighbor who makes a lot more money than you, or you mention that your friend has a lot less wrinkles, your tendency to measure yourself against others will teach your daughter to do the same.

It’s important that your daughter not compare her body with other people’s bodies. Teach her that she doesn’t need to be as thin as the ballet dancer at school, or she doesn’t have to have a waist as small as the soccer star. Instead, help her focus on being her best self, regardless of those around her.

4. You Don’t Teach Her How to Have Healthy Self-Talk

Teens often say things like, “I’m so fat,” or “Look at how big my thighs look in these jeans!” Responding with comments like, “Oh no you’re not,” or “Stop saying that,” won’t teach her how to change her critical thoughts about herself. In fact, she may simply feel as though you’re minimizing her feelings.

Teach your daughter how to tame her inner critic.  Explain how thinking negative thoughts about her body isn’t healthy. Encourage her to replace those critical thoughts with more realistic ones. Thinking more realistically and positive about herself will boost her self-confidence and promote good mental health.

5. You Place Too Much Emphasis on Appearance

If you place a lot of emphasis on how people look, you’ll increase the chances that your daughter will be sensitive about her appearance.

Whether you make cutting remarks about a stranger’s wrinkled shirt, or you spend hours trying to pick out the perfect outfit before a big event, these behaviors will teach your daughter that people are likely to judge her appearance harshly.

Make it clear to your daughter that her appearance isn’t the most important thing. Talk about how it’s much more important to be a good person. Praise her for kind behavior and hard work. Encourage her involvement in a variety of activities so she can feel good when she helps other people or when she discovers new talents.

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