Teen girls report that social media has the biggest impact on how they feel about their bodies, rather than looking in the mirror, their health, or how their clothes fit. Social expectations override their confidence and intuition. Their friends have less input than influencers that they follow who dictate what their body should look like and how they should treat it. Research suggests that time spent on social networking sites is associated with body image issues and disordered eating in teen girls. 88% of girls say they compare themselves to images in the media and half claim that they feel negatively affected by this.

Origins of Low Selfie-Esteem

Teen girls are the biggest users of social media platforms as a way to communicate with others and cultivate an online identity. Whether they directly see comments about their appearance, they form ideas about their ideal body and feel pressure to eat healthier. While a healthy diet is associated with better physical health, many teen girls take nutrition guidelines to the extreme, which assigns shame and guilt to certain foods that can be enjoyed in moderation. Studies show that girls who share more photos online and use photoshop to edit their pictures feel worse about their appearance and exhibit greater eating concerns, which can include restricting their intake, removing certain food groups, or overeating to cope with negative body image and low self esteem. The relationship between body image in teen girls and self esteem suggests that building confidence leads to reduced anxiety and depression, rather than changing what you eat. 

How to Help Your Daughter Improve her Body Image

Teach her that positive body image in teen girls is related to your mindset and relationship with yourself rather than the way you look.

This can take a lifetime of unlearning, especially as teen girls today are exposed to negative body messages at a younger age than older generations. However, it is not as black and white as it sounds. There is no such thing as a good body or a bad body but there is a difference between feeling good about yourself and feeling bad about yourself. Self esteem is often influenced by body image but it is also influenced by pride in your accomplishments and close connections with friends. 

Encourage her to follow body-positive accounts social media.

It’s no secret that most images of women in mainstream media have been photoshopped, often beyond recognition. Girls are more likely to compare their own appearance negatively with distant peers and celebrities. However, not all social media use is associated with body dissatisfaction. There is a growing community of people who are using their platform to talk about relationships with their body, body trust, and self-love. Exposure to positive body messages influences their mindset about their self-worth.

Role model intuitive eating and a healthy relationship with food.

As a parent of a teen girl, you are no longer responsible for controlling her diet and providing her with adequate nutrition. She may start to eat with friends or ask to prepare her own meals and have more control over what she eats. Spending time with other people while eating may feel overwhelming for her, but it redirects her preoccupation with food to enjoying the social experience. Your daughter is also influenced by comments you make about your body and the food you choose to eat, whether or not it is directed towards her. 

Introduce her to fun physical activities that help her become more aware of her body’s needs and encourage her to appreciate what her body can do.

Many girls who struggle with body image tend to over-exercise and experience a loss of pleasure from working out. Rather than focusing on weight loss and perfection, activities like hiking, yoga, swimming, and self-defense empower can empower her to rediscover joy and inner strength associated with movement. Healthier lifestyles have a significant effect on reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and traumatic stress. Additionally, the more time she spends outdoors, the less time she spends scrolling through social media. 

Solstice East Can Help 

Solstice East is a residential treatment center for young women ages 14-18 struggling with low self esteem and process addictions, including disordered eating and social media addiction.  This program focuses on helping young women heal, recover, and integrate healthy habits into their lives. Students will learn to build healthy relationships, cope with emotions, and effectively communicate. Solstice East gives young women the skills and confidence they need to lead happy and healthy lives. 

For more information about social media and body image issues, contact us at (855) 672-7058.

We can help your family today!