How to Encourage Positive Body Image in Teens
“Do I look pretty?” “Am I too fat?” “When can I have six-pack abs?”
When you have a teenager, these kinds of questions may pop up. If you have a teenager who is into modeling, the chances could be even higher. What do you do when you notice your teen expressing doubts and showing signs of dissatisfaction with his or her body?
All Shapes and Sizes
Your teen is growing in a world that is full of stereotypes, so you may sometimes wish you were living in a utopian society where prejudice is nil. However, you need to face reality, and the only thing you can do is to make sure that you equip your teen with the right mindset and attitude to counter negative influences.
If your teenager is already a part of the modeling world, the pressure to be beautiful from top to toe can be a real challenge. Behind the glitz and glam lies the fact that there are situations where your child will be exposed to issues such as body shaming, eating disorders, and peer pressure. Studies say that kids start to form opinions about their bodies as early as three and even more so when they reach puberty.
This is why it is very important that you choose a reputable child-modeling agency to represent your teen. Aside from being a trustworthy partner in your child’s career, they can also make sure that your child will be working in the best environment possible.
More importantly, you, as a parent, should take concrete steps in protecting your child not only from physical harm but also from possible emotional and psychological threats.
To counter the negativity your child teen model is being exposed to, there are ways to encourage the development of a positive body image in him or her:
1. Help them to accept how they look.
Each person is unique. You should be able to emphasize this fact to your teenager.
The truth that all people come in different colors, sizes, and shapes should not come as a surprise. Teenagers are old enough to see that the world is not made up of clones that look exactly alike. Therefore, they should be more of a friend to their bodies instead of being harsh critics. They should know that they are perfect just the way they are, and they should be more accepting of how they look.
If you hear your teen saying something that puts his or her body down, ask why he or she thinks that way. Communicate and try to work it out together until you reach a point where your teen finally respects and accepts his or her body for what it is. Remind your teen that body shaming will only lead to low self-esteem and even depression.
2. Encourage them to like themselves.
The road to acceptance starts with your teens liking their own bodies.
Instead of body shaming, why not ask them to identify something about their bodies which they like? What about his or her thick lashes, lustrous hair, or long legs? Why not like his or her fabulous caramel color or toned thighs? Tell them what you like about them and let them know that they should also feel good about themselves.
Also, direct their attention to what their bodies can do. Can they run, bike, or swim? Are they part of the cheerleading team or the cricket team? Do they help build houses, raise pets, or volunteer to clean the ocean? They should learn how to appreciate whatever it is that their bodies allow them to do – even if it is something as simple as stretching, walking, or moving their limbs.
Not everyone is blessed with a complete set of body parts so they should be thankful that they have theirs. There are amazing people who paint even without hands, play the piano even when they’re blind, or fix cars even without legs, yet these people have not given up and are living their best lives instead.
Teach your teen to take a cue from these admirable people and start liking what they have instead of complaining about what they lack. Let them know and appreciate the fact that they have everything it takes to succeed in life.
3. Teach them how to take care of their bodies.
They should also know the value of taking care of their bodies. Not only because they are in the modeling world, but also because it is the right thing to do.
To be able to achieve what they want in life, they will need their bodies to be strong and healthy.
- Encourage your child to eat healthy food. As a parent, you can also help by serving him or her nutritious meals as well as modeling the same healthy eating habits.
- Teach your teen the value of getting a good night’s sleep. Research says that teenagers should get at least nine hours of sleep. To do this, tell them to stop playing on their electronic gadgets, computer games, or watching TV or movies at a specific time before bed.
- Coax your teen into engaging in physical activities instead of just lounging around on the couch all day or hanging out on social media when he or she is bored. Aside from sports, he or she can help out in household chores, volunteer in the community, or engage in other healthy activities that will keep his or her body fit and strong.
A Beautiful World
Beauty is all around, and that includes everyone who lives in it.
Your teenager should know that there is much to be thankful for, including his or her body. Let your child know how having negative feelings about his or her body can lead to more adverse effects such as stress and anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.
A positive body image is crucial not only in overcoming modeling career-related struggles but also, more importantly, in the overall health and wellbeing of your child. It is your responsibility as a parent to ensure that you safeguard your child’s health so he or she can be well on his or her way to success.
Adam Jacobs is the Managing Director of Bubblegum Casting, the longest running agency specialising in babies, children and teen talent in Australia. Bubblegum Casting works with some of Australia’s biggest brands, media properties and agencies to secure talented children to work in Television, Film and Modelling roles.