Teens, Social Media, and Body Image: How to Support Your Teenage Girl

Human beings are quite fragile psychologically, partially since we live longer than most other animals and mammals that live on our planet. And one of the most sensitive periods in human lives is adolescence. In 2017, Karen Young, a contributor for Hey Sigmund website, provided statistics* showing that nearly 12.5 percent of teenagers suffer from a major depressive episode between ages 13 and 17.

In many cases, those episodes were contributed by body image and societal issues. So, to be a responsible parent, it’s imperative to help your teen manage their mental well-being, which requires you to consider the whole variety of aspects that affect it.

Teenage girl depressed and worried about body image issuesHow Teens Are Affected by  Body Image Issues

In our highly computerized and digitized world, social media and the internet play an important role in the lives of adults and teenagers alike. According to Very Well Family in their article “How to Prevent the Media from Damaging Your Teen’s Body Image,” an average teenager spends nearly nine hours per day using social media communication and entertainment, which generates academic, mental, and social issues for the youth. Some of these issues are easier to resolve than others.

For example, while academic issues can be difficult, they may be less demanding than emotional and social ones. For instance, students can easily rely on various helping services, such as TrustMyPaper, available for writing term papers free on the web to keep up with their studies. But when it comes to social issues, such as body image, mental health problems can go hand-in-hand and affect the youngsters negatively.

How to Support Your Teenage Girl

Body image is a highly problematic issue among young people and women in particular. According to Heather Gallivan, a psychology expert at Park Nicollet Melrose Center, 53 to 78 percent of American girls aged 13-17 are dissatisfied with their looks. These numbers are extremely serious as this dissatisfaction can lead to unhealthy diets, food disorders, depression, social anxiety, and even suicide attempts.

On top of that, the academic success of adolescent girls can become badly damaged due to their self-esteem issues caused by the idealization of oftentimes inappropriate body image in movies and online. And, while teens manage to hide all the related mental issues rather well from their parents, signs such as withdrawal from academic and social activity or inability to express one’s opinion coherently can be related to mental issues related to body image and stigmatization.

Related reading: "Build Healthy Self-Esteem: Give Children Relevant, Meaningful Feedback."

Ways to Parent that Help to Promote Healthy Body Image

To assist you in approaching this problem effectively, here are a few basic tips that may help.

1.  Listen to your teen actively.

Listening is vital since teen girls might share their feelings about how they feel about their body transformations during puberty or their weight status, so make sure to listen actively to them. That means you must discuss these issues and not just listen to them, brush, or shrug those issues off. It is crucial to provide your adolescent daughter with maximum support and understanding. You can, for instance, share your struggles connected to this issue or someone you have known who overcame an unhealthy body image or role models with positive body images.

2. Maintain a body-positive environment.

No, you don’t have to become fit or muscular but make sure your child is exposed to body positivity in your family home. Keep a few magazines about healthy diet, body fitness, and positive influences in plain sight. Search for a celebrity or someone who can be a role model for your teenager and who supported healthy body image or are an example of body positivity. Discuss how self-talk can impact body image and how who we are on the inside and as a person outweighs our looks. Ensure that your comments are uplifting and positive—no calling your daughter pudgy and fat or teasing her about her eating habits. With these well-rounded attitudes and influences, your girl will see that appearance matters less than things she does, and it is fine to look the way she looks.

3. Promote a healthy lifestyle.

If the previous ideas aren’t working, there are still other ways to bring your child closer to a healthy body image and appearance. In most cases, promoting healthy eating patterns and regular physical activity is enough to look fit and be healthy at the same time. Encourage healthy eating and moderate exercise. These are quite effective and do not require an overwhelming effort. Creating healthy habits supports teens to feel good about themselves.

Teen girls on their smartphones texting

4. Increase your child’s awareness about the idealized body image stereotypes.

Besides providing your kid with a positive example of a healthy lifestyle and body positivity, you can also point out that the ideal images she might see on the web or in advertisements are not real. There is a huge amount of documentary material available on how advertising models are airbrushed, edited using computer software, or camera tricks to make them look thinner. Watch the documentaries together and discuss them. Also, you can talk to your child about the different types of physical beauty. Help your teenage girl to realize her own body’s fine qualities.

Deep dive: "Comparison: Thief to Your Child's Self-Esteem."

Be Mindful and Act Quickly

If you start feeling that your child is forming body image distortions, start working on solving those issues immediately. It is important to make sure your girl understands that all people look different, just as their values, perspectives, and opinions are unique. Help her to understand that whatever people say about the way she looks (or anybody else looks) are only opinions. Encourage her to stay true to herself… after all she’s one of a kind.

So, keep calm, help your teen daughter stay calm too, and enjoy your lives in a body-positive and mentally stable environment.

* 2015 statistics by Karen Young, Hey, Sigmund

If you'd like to reach the author, you can contact her at TrustMyPaper.

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Guest blogger: Nicole GarrisonGuest blogger: Nicole Garrison
Nicole Garrison has always enjoyed investigating, researching, and writing. Initially expressing her interest in writing in high school, she worked as a full-time professional writer for Supreme Dissertations for a few years when she helped countless students with their lack of academic inspirations. That job in particular greatly helped Nicole in finding her true passion, which is helping others with her writing and an extraordinary ability to share personal experiences.

Posted in Perfectly Imperfect Parenting

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