How to encourage a healthy and positive body image

positive body image - mother and daughter brushing teeth together

Now, more than ever, we live in a body image-obsessed world. Just look at Instagram, TikTok, and other visually-based applications that have teenagers trying to outdo each other in the looks category. No doubt it’s not good for our children, especially daughters, to be constantly exposed to messages that make them feel constantly inadequate. Studies have also shown that by age six, girls especially start to express concerns about their weight or shape, with 50 percent of girls ages 6-12 afraid of becoming too fat. We need to help them build a healthy and positive body image.

As parents, it’s up to us to try to counteract this messaging by serving as positive role models, both in our real lives and in the lives we portray on social media. Here are three ways to lead by example.

Positive Body Image – Lead by Example

1. Talk positively about your body and watch self-criticism. Think for a moment about the way you talk about yourself and others. It’s pretty simple: When you verbally criticize yourself, your body, or your appearance, you’re sending a message to those around you that’s OK to speak poorly of yourself. Do you want your daughter to pick up this bad habit? If not, it’s time to keep an eye on how you talk about yourself in front of others. It’s just as easy to portray yourself in a positive body image manner.

2. Give praise for qualities other than physical appearance. We all want to look attractive, but when we give compliments solely based on looks, we are discounting someone’s intelligence, courage, creativity, or strength. In reality, we should recognize these traits more than beauty.

3. Establish other positive role models. The media tends to put beauty people on a pedestal. Think outside of the box to look for empowering role models who are adding to society. There are plenty of women out there who exhibit qualities like intellect, courage, and contribution to society. That’s what makes someone beautiful after all. Beauty fades but virtues last.