• How to Help Your Teen Deal With Body Image Issues

    By: Lia Parisyan, Writer.

    Being a teenager isn’t easy. With puberty kicking in, teens’ bodies are undergoing major changes. Some teens might have a harder time dealing with weight gain, acne, and body image issues than their peers.

    As a parent, it isn’t always easy to talk to your teen. Even though you may have experienced many of the same changes during your own adolescence, it’s difficult to approach your teen and open up about your painful experiences.

    The Negative Impact of Photoshopped Images

    Source: Buzzfeed

    Source: Buzzfeed

    Today, teens are constantly bombarded with Photoshopped images.  From YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and magazines, teens are seeing images that aren’t real. Sadly, some teens may feel the pressure to measure up to the “flawless” celebrities, social media personalities, and models they see in print and on the web. Unfortunately, many teens don’t realize that most of their favorite singers and actors don’t wake up looking closeup ready.

    Thankfully, many celebrities are opening up about the body image pressures of the industry. Celebrities like Kate Winslet, Carrie Fisher, and others are actively involved in campaigns that let people know that what they’re seeing on the screen isn’t real. Other brands, like Dove through its Campaign for Real Beauty, are encouraging  women of all shapes, sizes, and colors to embrace their bodies. Slowly, things are changing, but there’s still a lot of negative influences in print, on TV, and on the web.   

    As a parent, it’s important to remind your teen that looking “good” is part of a celebrity’s profession. Let your child know about the team of makeup, hair, and lighting people that goes into creating their “picture perfect” images.

    Another thing you can do is to encourage your teen to strive for his or her personal best. Teach him or her to let go by helping your teen understand the high physical, emotional, and spiritual costs of unrealistic beauty standards.

    Naturally, this is easier said than done. After all, how many times do you find yourself succumbing to similar pressures? How many times do you stand in front of a mirror or get on a scale wishing things were different?

    Remember, as a parent, you have a lot of power. That’s why it’s important to set a good example. And, your teen is more perceptive than you think.

    Behaviors You Should Avoid

    Are you always complaining about wanting to lose weight? Do you apply a full face of makeup every time you leave your home? Is the gym your second home? Do you spend tons of money on expensive anti-aging creams and other treatments? Are you constantly dieting or restricting calories?

    You might not be aware of it, but what you say and what you do, can have a major influence on your teen.

    Do you think your teen is suffering from low self-esteem?

    Some kids tend to be more open about their problems. Other kids choose to stay quiet, but still may be suffering in silence. While it isn’t always easy to spot problem behaviors, keep an eye out for these signs:

    • Dramatic weight loss or weight gain
    • Dieting or calorie restriction
    • Obsession with working out
    • Depression and major mood swings
    • Diet pill purchases and abuse
    • Major skincare purchases- is your teen spending all his/her allowance or paychecks on expensive skin care treatments?
    • Obsession with the scale; constantly measuring his/her waist, biceps, hips, etc.
    • Eating in secret, playing with food, skipping meals,  and/or binging/purging
    • Heightened interest in makeup, hair, and other beauty products
    • Constantly putting him or her self down
    • Constantly comparing his/her body image to friends, celebrities, and athletes
    • Poor academic performance
    • A loss of interest in social or extracurricular activities
    • Isolating tendencies
    • Alcohol or drug use

    Don’t be too harsh or expect perfection

    Are you one of those parents who is constantly criticizing everything your teen does? Do you always expect the best grades, sports performances, etc.? While it’s important to set expectations for your child, it’s not good to expect perfection. Nobody is perfect. Think about how many times you’ve failed in your life? Were your parents supportive? Did they make you feel worse by constantly criticizing you? Did you wish they could have been more understanding at the time?

    Your child is human. He or she will make mistakes.

    If your child is trying to live up to unrealistic expectations, he or she may develop destructive behaviors to cope with the pressure. Some teens may develop eating disorders, others may succumb to depression, and others may even turn to alcohol and drugs to escape. It’s important to a home create an environment that encourages kids to be open and acknowledge failure. Failure is a part of life. Failing isn’t the end of the world. 

    Trying, failing, learning, and growing are the true markers of personal evolution and success.

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