Does any of this sounds familiar, “If only I were shorter/taller/had curly hair/was thinner/born with a smaller nose/longer legs, I’d be happy”. These are some comments we often hear from children of various ages. Research shows that children’s obsession with looks starts much earlier than before. The need to look perfect is spreading across all age groups, ethnicity, strata and the influence seems to be impossible to ignore.

“Body Image is how one views of their physical self -including whether they feel attractive and whether others like their looks”. In simple words it relates to one’s shape, size and weight.

Family environment and culture have strong influence on the child’s view about their body. Different cultures and families have varied views about ideal body shapes and sizes – some are more encouraging and realistic than others. The pressures to look perfect may affect the child’s perception of Body Image. Media and advertising have been negatively influencing our children’s concept of body image by setting unrealistic expectations using air brushed pictures of models. Media is constantly bombarding us with perfect pictures of men and women. Lately, it’s the media which defines the “ideal” size rather than individuals. Achild, who constantly looks for assurance on appearance, is overly conscious and obsessed with looks, might be struggling with body image issues. A healthy body image in childhood lays foundations for good physical and mental health, later in life.

Self Esteem is the “real” opinion one has of them. The most important aspects of self-esteem is the feeling of belonging, a sense of being accepted, and the feeling of being a competent person… Body Image plays a major role in child’s Self Esteem, it’s hard to feel good about oneself if one hates their body. Even though self esteem is something that cannot be touched or seen but it is always there following you like your shadow or the reflection in the mirror. Children with lower self esteem have a lower self worth about themselves. By manipulating their body image (using fad diets and extreme eating practices) some children are actually compensating for the way they feel inside.

Tips To Help Boost Positive Body Image

  • Encourage use of positive statements about food, weight, body sizes and shape.
  • Allow children to make decisions about their food, while ensuring availability of plenty healthy choices.
  • Compliment children on their qualities rather than their physical appearance.
  • While watching shows, or flipping magazines with your children, discuss the genuinity of the images.
  • Educate children to value people for who they are and not for their looks.
  • Avoid practising fad diets or extreme eating practices.
  • Educate children that their bodies will change as it grows and that everyone is born with a different shape and size. Use lectures and giving repeated warning often.
  • Promote and model healthy eating habits and physical activities to ensure “fit” children with higher levels of self-esteem and healthier body images.

Where Can I Go if I Need Help?

Parents are concerned at the rate of dissatisfaction among children with their appearances. They wonder whether they should ignore what’s happening or is it something they should address immediately or if this could be the start of bigger body issues.

If you’re feeling this way, come and meet our counsellor Ms Vinti Mittal @ Body with Soul to help you deal with your children’s Body Image issues.

For further support and queries please feel free to fix an appointment with Vinti Mittal, Counsellor at Body with Soul.

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