By Angel Wagner, LSW
Whether we remember them fondly or not, many of us would agree that our teenage years had their share of challenging moments. While teenagers are going through the adventure of figuring out who they are and who they want to become, their bodies are going through physical changes that can be overwhelming for some teens.
Teenagers regularly compare themselves to others to try to fit in. Therefore, they are often social media’s best “customers.” Constant comparison to their peers and social media influencers can create insecurities as teens try to attain the “perfect” body or the “perfect” lifestyle. This lowers a teen’s self-esteem exponentially and can lead to drastic habits like extreme diets and overexercising. You can help your teen practice body positivity to help them realize the “perfect body” is the body they live in now.
As stated before, teenagers practically live on social media. One of the more popular platforms for this age group is Instagram, which consists of individuals posting pictures and sharing their life online. Many of these photos can be photoshopped and tagged with lines such as #beachbody, #skinnylegend, or #thinspiration.
There are dark sides to many social media websites where eating disorders such as anorexia are depicted as something to strive for. However, many social media platforms have lighter sides too. There are many influencers who don’t photoshop themselves to fit the mold of what an influencer is supposed to look like. They proudly show who they are with tags such as #bodypositivity, #beautifullife, and #anti-diet. These influencers strive to show others there is much more to life than a perfect beach body.
The influence of media isn’t just in our phones. It’s everywhere. When in line at the grocery store there are magazines detailing how celebrities drop weight for a role in a movie, or how influencers use supplements to look “perfect” for the red carpet. Be conscious of what your teen is reading and encourage them to read body positive content.
Whether you realize it or not, you are your teen’s biggest influence. Growing up in a home filled with negative self-talk will have your teen looking at themselves in an unflattering light. Use body positivity yourself to model for your teen. Help them focus on the great qualities and talents they possess instead of dwelling on the negative messages of social media and Hollywood.
And finally, make a point to tell your teen how proud you are of them and the person they are becoming. Help them realize that extreme change isn’t needed. Who they already are is perfect.