As girls transition into adolescence, there is constant pressure from the media, their peers, and themselves to obtain the ideal body and appearance. This quest for perfection can often result in low self-esteem and negative body image. There are many reasons why your teen could develop negative body image including natural weight gain caused by puberty, peer pressure to look a certain way, and media that promotes “thin” as the ideal female body type.
Dangerous standards lead to dangerous methods
Teenage girls grow up in a culture where unrealistic expectations of female thinness and beauty are shown to them every day in the pages of airbrushed magazines and filtered Instagram posts. The models that dictate the standards of beauty are often digitally edited, cosmetically and surgically augmented, and unattainable by healthy means.
When your daughter doesn’t feel like she’s living up to the ideal standards of female beauty, she can begin to feel ashamed of her body and experience negative body image. These negative feelings can culminate in serious conditions like depression and eating disorders.
Teens who feel like they cannot achieve the ideal appearance often turn to unhealthy methods, which can result in eating disorders. Eating disorders can occur in all people experiencing the effects of negative self-image, irrespective of their weight, gender, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. A recent New York Times survey found that 60% of all girls surveyed indicated they were trying to lose weight. Of these girls, many consumed unbalanced diets, while others resorted to purging, laxatives, diuretics, and diet pills. Other unhealthy behaviors like fasting and excessive exercise were reported as means of losing weight quickly.
Dr. Nagata from Benioff Children’s Hospital writes, “If youngsters are obsessed with an idealized body image, their thinking and behavior become disordered and can take over their lives. The detrimental effects can be subtle”. Engaging in these dangerous methods will not always result in a massive physical transformation, so it is important to gauge your teen’s thought patterns and behaviors surrounding her body image.
How a parent can help
Detecting negative thought patterns and communicating openly with your daughter about weight and body image issues can help them become more comfortable in their own skin. It can be beneficial to explain the effects of puberty on their developing bodies to help them understand that what they are experiencing is normal. Teens can also benefit from discussions about media messaging. Discover what your daughter is reading or watching and engage with her about what she is seeing and what it means to her. Take this opportunity to share with her that there is not one perfect body type and encourage her to use body positive language. Using positive language like “a healthy diet” and “staying physically active” can help to reposition your daughter’s mindset on healthy body image.
Solstice East can help with girls’ body image issues
Solstice East is a residential treatment center for girls ages 14 to 17 that specializes in treating young women struggling with eating disorders, body image issues, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. At our program, girls will develop healthy physical and mental habits to help them on their journey toward healing.
For more information about how Solstice East handles girls’ body image issues, please call 828-484-9946.