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Part I:  Establishing an Acceptable Body Image

According to Research:

  1. 80% of high school girls reported that they were above the weight of which they would be happiest (Fisher et al., 1991)
  2. Early adolescent girls are already aware of the concept of dieting
  3. 78% of teenage women (13-19 years old) are dissatisfied with their weight (Eisele et al, 1986)
  4. A negative body image is positively correlated with low self-esteem and depression

The following tips can be used to help teens develop an acceptable body image.  Or, if you’re a teen, consider the following discussion points to gain a better understanding of whether you have a healthy body image.

Recognize the Influence of the Media:  If you landed on Earth after having lived your entire life on another planet and your only means of learning about women was achieved through watching TV/looking through magazines, what characteristics would you attribute to women?  Are women merely objects of desire?  How are men supposed to treat women?  What messages are conveyed through the media about women?  Point out to your teen that magazine advertisements are designed to sell products and often they can be harmful to one’s self-image.

Awareness to Unrealistic Measurements:  You know you’ve seen those wafer thin bodies plastered on billboards and in magazine ads.  Do these women look healthy?  Could they withstand physical exercise without breaking? Do they look happy?  Next time you see a super skinny model, ask your teen if she thinks the model is happy and remind her of everything the model has sacrificed (i.e. her happiness, health, food, relationship with family, etc.) to look the way she does.  It just isn’t worth it!

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What a Girl Needs – Helping Teens Establish a Healthy Body Image
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