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Parents Help Young Girls Develop a Positive Body Image

By Yvette Vignando - 31st October 2011

Tonight I read some extracts from a UK School Health Education Unit report called Young People Into 2011. The headlines about the report tell us that about one third of primary school girls are missing their meals and are unhappy with their weight.  

I’m  only a little surprised because there’s so much media coverage of teenage girls who are unhappy with their body image.

But I want to be surprised;  I want to be shocked that a 10 year old girl is worrying about her weight and thinking about her body image. I want to believe that at age 10 she is still accepting of herself and her body.  And of course I want the same for boys.

The Report surveyed 83,000 young people and found that 32% of 10-11 year old girls ‘would like to lose weight’.  And there were plenty of other disturbing statistics about the health, eating habits and body image satisfaction of older boys and girls.

I wanted to let you know there are things parents can do to shield their children from the influences of media, celebrity culture and peer pressure – not because there is a fool-proof formula, but because raising our children to be strong individuals who are confident in themselves and understand how to stay healthy, is part of the story.

Earlier this year I wrote this article about Raising Boys With a Healthy Body Image  and the information in there about promoting a healthy body image also applies to your daughters. But you should also know about Dannielle Miller’s website (she has no idea I am writing this) and the program Enlighten Education which has as its goal - helping teenage girls decode the mixed messages they receive and helping them develop self esteem and confidence.

Dannielle and I haven't met but I have immense respect for her mission which is to help girls overcome body image and self-esteem issues, self-doubt and stress. So if you have a daughter, I suggest you check out her blog from time to time for ideas.

I know that often teenagers end up with eating disorders and body image disorders in spite of all the love and care that we give them – and there are many caring professionals we can turn to for help. If you have a story to share about this that you think may help other parents, please do get in touch  – I believe many of us parents learn the most when other parents generously share their stories. I would be honoured if you would trust me to share yours.

Places to Seek Help and Information
Your doctor, counsellor and general practioner for referral.

Butterfly Foundation telephone helpline (Aus) : 1800 33 4647

Butterfly Foundation website

image freedigitalphotos.net Tina Phillips

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