Picture Perfect: Body Image and Young Girls

The transition between being regarded as a little girl to a teenager is one of the most challenging times in a girl’s life. Not only is your body changing, but your peers are beginning to pressure you to grow up. Body image and young girls go hand in hand like bread and butter. Body image begins to influence young girls beginning as young as the age of 7. What factors influence body image and young girls?

Media warps body image

All over television, film, and fashion magazines, images of young, extremely skinny women portray the “ideal” womanly form. Young girls are exposed to these images and begin to aspire to look like the actresses on the screen. The catch is, many of these actresses have personal trainers, a severely restricted diet, and plastic surgery on their side. Young girls may not realize this and end up with eating disorders and self esteem issues.

According to a 2003 study, over 80 percent of 10 year girls are afraid of becoming overweight. A 2002 study found that 40-70 percent of middle school girls are dissatisfied with two or more parts of their body and body dissatisfaction hits rock bottom between the ages of 12 and 15.

Social media as an influence

Another factor influencing body image and young girls is social media. Selfies posted on Instagram, SnapChat and Facebook can be edited to whiten teeth and make girls appear older than they actually are. Because girls are exposed to social media pretty much 24/7, this over saturation of images displaying girls trying to impress their peers damages body image and young girls self esteem.

Tips for parents

Guiding your daughter through her tween and early teen years is a difficult process. Helping promote a healthy body image is key to your daughter’s happiness. Here are some things you might consider doing to help with her body image:

  • Talk with her about body image. Explain to her that she’s going through puberty and weight gain and other changes in her body are completely normal. Also talk to her about the messages the media displays about body image. Encourage her to question what she sees on TV. Ask her what she likes about herself and promote a positive self image that way.
  • Talk about who your daughter is rather than how she looks. Instead of telling her that she’s pretty, tell her how good of a friend she is or other qualities she has.
  • Help her set healthy eating habits. Give her healthy snacks and meals. If she feels healthy, her body image will improve.
  • Promote exercise. After dinner every night, take a walk as a family. Get her involved in physical activity like dance or a sport.
  • Set a positive example. If you’re complaining about your body constantly, she will more likely be worried about her body. Let her know that exercise and a healthy diet are not just to look a certain way, but to be healthy.

Asheville Academy for girls can help

Asheville Academy, a therapeutic boarding school for young girls ages 10-14 helps young girls struggling with body image and low self esteem. With a caring, experienced staff and an inviting, comfortable campus, Asheville Academy can help your daughter find success and happiness.

For more information about Asheville Academy, please call 800-264-8709.