Body image is something that we probably have all struggled with at one time or another. Even those endowed with great genetics have insecurities about their bodies. These insecurities, when dwelt upon, tend to fester, and can lead to very serious issues. Negative body image is not something to be taken lightly. If your daughter has a negative body image now, it can affect things you will do years from now. It is important to recognize the dangers of negative body images, and help your girls to overcome this tendency, and be positive about who they are and how they look.
The following are the dangers of a negative body image:
•Potential for health problems (such as eating disorders, or compulsive exercising).
•Decreased self esteem.
•Decrease in drive to succeed.
•Inability to appreciate one’s self.
Most of the dangers of a negative body image reside under the topic of simply not being able to see yourself for what you really are. If when you look in the mirror you only see what is wrong with you, that carries over into other areas of your life. It is hard to be happy, find a good job, have a healthy relationship, or be successful in your endeavors, no matter what they are, if you can’t have a real grasp on yourself. You have to be able to have an awareness of your worth and your value, and a negative body image destroys that. It destroys confidence. It destroys motivation. And often times, it not only hampers these things but it can also create serious hurdles to overcome as well. For example, it can lead to eating disorders which cause serious risk to your health, psychological problems, and often take years to overcome, and some never get over all of the effects. The dangers of a negative body image are real, and should not be taken lightly.
So, what can you do to help your girls have a positive body image?
Start with yourself. If you do not practice what you preach it will have little impact. Never talk bad about your own body in front of your daughters. If you are shopping, and you think you look bad, say, “This is the wrong cut for me.” Do not say, “Ugg, I look awful in this.”
Help them develop talents. People who have developed their talents and recognize their own talents tend to have more self confidence then others. If you can support the growth in your children, encourage them to pursue their dreams, and develop their talents, they will feel valued, and will likely have less struggle with their body.
Foster feelings of self worth. Provide an accepting environment that respects differences in opinions and thoughts. Help your children feel their place in your life, and their worth to you. Helping your daughter feel self worth in other areas of life will help her to feel worthwhile even if her body is not perfect.
Speak positively. Do not say negative things about your body or anyone else’s. Do not compare people based on physical stature. Do not compare yourself or anyone else to a celebrity or super model. They pay to have great bodies, work out a lot, have special diets, etc.
Discourage negative self talk. If your daughter starts in on themselves, or says she looks bad in something, put a stop to it immediately. If you let her continue you are giving her permission to have a negative body image. You are almost telling her you agree with her assessment, and you are letting a negative cycle perpetuate.