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Four strategies to foster positive body image in young people
It seems the days of super skinny models are finally on their way out. This is great news for girls who struggle with their body image simply because they cannot achieve the emaciated looks they see in the media.
In Holland the Elite Model Management has been forced to pay $93,500 for terminating a 3 year contact with Ananda Marchildon because they deemed her hips to be too big. (At the time they measured only 92cm).
As a show of support underwear company Sloggi stepped in and hired Marchildon for a one off shoot to model their undies; and she looks in great shape. Sloggi spokeswoman Monica van Alewijn said “It’s too crazy for words that a model who’s her size would be written off as too fat. She’s just a beautiful woman, and for heaven’s sake she shouldn’t starve herself.”
Tips on how to promote positive body image in teenagers*
1-Be a good role model
• Children learn eating behaviours from their parents, so make sure you include plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, low-fat dairy products and unprocessed cereals in the family’s diet.
• Don’t crash diet or let you child see you continually on a diet.
• Accept your own body size and shape. Don’t complain about ugly body parts to teenagers.
• Accept other people’s body sizes and shapes.
• Don’t put a lot of emphasis on physical appearances. Instead talk about all the different aspects that make up a person, such as their qualities, strengths and outlook on life.
2-Have a healthy attitude to regular exercise
• Exercise regularly. Have at least one family activity per week that involves some kind of exercise.
• Emphasise fitness, health and enjoyment as the motivations for exercise, rather than weight loss or weight management.
3-Give them a strong sense of identity and self-worth
• Teach them healthy coping strategies to help them deal with life’s challenges.
• Listen to their concerns about body shape and appearance. Puberty, in particular, can be a worrying time. Reassure your child that their physical changes are normal and that everyone develops at different times and rates.
• Don’t tease them about their weight, body shape or looks.
• Help them develop a critical awareness of the images and messages they in the media.
• Show them celebrity/sports role models that display a positive body image, regardless of their size or appearance.
4-Foster a healthy relationship with food
• Don’t label foods as good or bad – this creates a feeling of guilt when bad foods are eaten.
• Don’t use food as a reward or punishment.
• Allow your child to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full.
Writer Helen Splarn. Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha.
Source: AFP. Sydney Morning Herald. Eating Disorders Victoria (funded by the State Government of Victoria).
Dr Rick Kausman is the author of the award-winning book If Not Dieting, Then What? and a director of the Butterfly Foundation As a Generation Next speaker he will be presenting at Australia wide seminars throughout 2012. To find out more or register go to 2012 Mental Health and Wellbeing of Young People Events