Younger Ages Experiencing Body Shame

BodyImageA new Yahoo Health survey revealed that, on average, Americans say they first remember feeling ashamed of their bodies between 13 and 14 years old.  If that number seems low, just wait until the next generation–the survey found teens ages 13-17 reported their first body shame moments between 9 and 10 years old.  Why are people feeling self-conscious at such young ages?

“The younger kids are getting messages earlier about how they should appear,” Robyn Silverman, Generation WOW speaker and author of Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession Is Messing Up Our Girls and How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It, tells Yahoo Parenting in a recent article.  “We’ve also got sexualization happening earlier on.  Kids feel more hurried to behave [older] and wear adult fashions, and feel that their body needs to look a certain way. All those things taken together are creating a more self-conscious society.”

What can adults do to promote a child’s self-esteem?  Here is an excerpt from the article:

“Make sure your kids are media-literate,” suggests Silverman. “That means not just sitting with them and talking with them about what they’re seeing, but really being able to dissect it.” Silverman talks to her own children about how advertisers use tricks to make you want to buy what they’re selling, whether it’s a toy, clothing, or a diet. Pointing that out to kids can help them become more media-savvy.

For older children, Silverman says you can show them “before” and “after” photos of their favorite celebrity — namely, what celebrities look like in everyday life, such as leaving the gym, compared to what they look like on the cover of a magazine or in an Instagram shot. It’s teaching adolescents to scrutinize the images they see more closely, and to understand that those images are often digitally manipulated and that makeup and lighting are used to make celebrities appear slimmer and more flawless than they are in real life. “It’s explaining to them that the girl on the cover of the magazine doesn’t even look like the girl on the cover of the magazine,” says Silverman. “It’s puling back the curtain.”

Click here to read the entire article.

image courtesy of flickr CC/Justin Gaynor