“Body positivity” is one of today’s biggest buzzwords. Magazines are filled with photos of impossibly beautiful women and unrealistically handsome men. Their skin, hair, eyes and smiles are perfect. The women are all whipcord thin but somehow manage to have a generous bust and a perky rear end. The men all have lean bodies with extremely defined muscles and less than five percent body fat. Photoshop has supplanted makeup and lighting as a not-so-benevolent dictator in the fashion world. “Perfection” is on display everywhere.
In response to this madness, the internet has been flooded with images of everyday men and women proclaiming that they love their imperfect bodies. Women with thick thighs post selfies with hashtags like “#LoveMyCurves” and “#NaturalBeauty,” and men share how a person who engages in a realistic workout regime can expect to look.
Unfortunately, this swarm of body positive bloggers sometimes goes too far. Many “helpful” body positivity social media pages declare that everyone everywhere should love their body exactly how it is and not want to change a thing about it! For the average person, this is great advice, but these bloggers often issue that same declaration to men and women who want to lose weight for health reasons. Being overweight, after all, is just as dangerous as being underweight.
Given the wildly contrasting extremes of social media and mass media, it is no wonder that teens everywhere are facing more body image issues than ever. Teens are developing eating disorders and engaging in dangerous diets at an alarming rate, but childhood obesity rates continue to swell. In this climate, how can a parent help their teen avoid developing a dangerous need to be skinny or disregarding the fact that they are unhealthily overweight? Here are some tips on how to teach your teen about body positivity.