Teenage girls experience a phenomenon called self doubt. When they were younger they just enjoyed life, but as they aged they started getting a large sense of self, and they became self conscious, especially about their bodies. The problem is their sense of self is often warped. Instead of seeing themselves for what they are, they see what they are not–they are not as thin as her, they are not as pretty as her, they do not have as shapely of legs as her. The comparisons they make of themselves start to become problems, which you can see readily if you look at statistics of teenage girls who suffer from eating disorders, are compulsive exercisers, etc. So, what can you do to help your teenage daughter to feel good about her body? Try some of the following tips and suggestions:
It starts with you. If you want your daughter to feel good about her body, you have to show a positive example of body image. Even if you think you have fat thighs, or wide hips, do not ever voice your sour self opinions in front of your daughter. Teenage girls need good examples; they have enough bad examples roaming the hallways of their schools. So, point out the things you like about yourself, be confident, and love yourself, and work to improve yourself, not “fix” yourself, and your teenage daughter will learn to do the same.
Never agree with her about negative body image comments. If your daughter says to you, “I am going to do this diet so I can lose fifteen pounds.” Do not say, “Great, I will do it with you,” or “Okay honey, when do you want to start?” This is like saying, “You are right, you should diet, you are fat!” That may not be your intention, but it does cause psychological problems when you agree they should diet. Instead you need to say, “You are beautiful as you are, but I will support you in your choices, is there something you would like me to pick up from the grocery store for you?” By reaffirming that you love and accept them as they are first, you do not give them permission to have a negative image about their body.
Help them dress appropriately. Even a size two is going to feel bad about their body if they are trying to squeeze into double zero pants. So, if you want to help your daughter feel good about her body, start by teaching her to dress is appropriate sizes and styles of clothing for her unique figure. Help her to find the clothes that most flatter her, the colors that help her look the best, the cuts, lengths, and styles that do the most for her body. If you need help with this, watch a few episodes of “What not to wear” on TLC, it will give you some good rules of thumb to use when shopping. How she looks dressed is going to greatly effect how she feels about her body when she is not dressed.
Start young with good nutrition. If you want your teenage daughter to feel good about her body, it is important that you help her to keep her body in good condition. Do not feed your children garbage foods; instead start them young on healthy meals, and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Encourage exercise for sport and fun, not for weight loss purposes. Help your child be active from a young age and they will have a hard time feeling bad about their body.
Last but not least, never compare them to anyone else. Never even refer to them and someone else in the same sentence as it invites comparison. Instead, give individual compliments.