How to Help Improve Your Daughter’s Body Image

Dec 17, 2021

One side effect of social media’s meteoric rise is that a healthy body image has become more and more difficult to maintain. This is true for men and women of all ages but is particularly detrimental for young girls in their tweens and teen years, since this is a period of great development and growth.

Even though research in this area is still ongoing, one landmark review of 20 different papers found that there was a correlation between negative self-image and social media use. The review found that this negative self-image often led to disordered eating and other troubling physical and emotional symptoms.

While raising your daughter to have a healthy body image isn’t getting easier, there are many steps you can take to help her grow up with a healthier view of her physical shape. Let’s talk about why this has become such a critical aspect of parenting, and what we can do to encourage our girls to love and appreciate everything they see in the mirror.

Why is Body Image So Critical for Young Girls?

First, let’s define what we mean when we talk about ‘body image’. Body image is defined as “how you think or feel about your appearance, your body and how you feel in your own skin.”

Having a negative body image has been linked to a myriad of unhealthy lifestyle choices from childhood to adulthood, such as disordered eating, dieting and weight control behaviours, and even mood disorders and self-harm.

Both girls and boys who are not able to maintain a healthy body image during the critical period of adolescence could find that these bad habits follow them for the rest of their lives. Spending time focused on their bodies during this busy time also takes their energy away from other pursuits, like their schooling, social life, and hobbies.

4 Ways to Help Your Daughter Adopt a Healthy Body Image

There’s no doubt that helping your daughter achieve a healthy body image will benefit her for the rest of her life. However, that’s a lot easier said than done.

Here are some tips that can help you work with your daughter to foster a more positive body image and healthier self-image overall.

Talk about body image

An unhealthy body image is like mould. The more it’s allowed to sit in the dark and quiet, the faster it will grow. In contrast, bringing it out into the open and having honest conversations about it can make a hugely positive impact.

Don’t be afraid to bring this topic up with your daughter. Ask her questions about how she feels about her body, and let her know that any concerns she has are normal.

Set a positive example

Some parents set a bad example for their children on the topic of body image without even realizing they’re doing it. Adopting a restrictive diet and negatively commenting on your own body are the two biggest red flags.

Instead, try to set a better example by being kind and thoughtful when talking about your own body, and remind your daughter that making healthy lifestyle choices is good for both your body and mind.

Encourage exercise

Without focusing on her physical shape, encourage your daughter to exercise. Research has shown that physically active children are less likely to adopt a negative view of their own body.

Compliment other attributes

As girls grow up, they’re continually complimented in a way that focuses attention on their bodies. Being told that they’re cute or pretty might feel nice at first, but after a while, it can make them feel like their worth is indelibly tied to their appearance. Instead, focus your compliments on characteristics like her intelligence, hard work, and sense of humour.

With a bit of effort, you can help your daughter learn better habits that will lead to improved body image and self-esteem. Have questions, or want to learn more? Get in touch with me here.