7 Kid-Friendly Messages About Body Image

The path to a healthy body image is tough to navigate when we see exaggerated examples of beauty wherever we turn. Here are seven ways to help your child appreciate her own beauty.

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Start a Body-Image Revolution

Movies and magazines portray a certain look of beauty and glamor. Feeling a need to look like the air-brushed, made-up models can get a young person down. Get your child in touch with her feelings about her looks. Boost her self-esteem with age-appropriate, positive messages about how she views her body.

1. Let Her Know That Differences Make Us Shine

For children ages 5 to 8.

Mantra: People's bodies come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. Our differences make us unique. All bodies are special, including those that are disabled. Inspire your kid to embrace the special qualities of her own body.

2. Encourage Healthy Habits

For children ages 5 to 8.

Mantra: Eating healthy and staying active can improve how a person looks and feels. Exercise and a well-balanced diet can go a long way. Feeling and looking healthy on the inside is most important.

3. Tell Her About Her Dynamic Development

For children ages 9 to 12.

Mantra: Genes are the primary reason why we look the way we do. Body types and facial features are inherited from parents and grandparents. Our health habits and the environment also shape how we look and feel. Help her admire her favorite features and understand we are always changing.

4. Let Him Know Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes Are Normal!

For children ages 9 to 12.

Mantra: Each body changes and develops during puberty at its own unique pace. Girls tend to start puberty around ages 8 to 14, while boys go through puberty around ages 12 to 16. Reassure her that body changes are a normal and natural part of growing up.

5. Tell Her to Embrace Her Own Beauty

For children ages 9 to 12.

Mantra: What is considered "beautiful" changes over time and across cultures. Most people do not fit the media's image of beauty. Eating disorders can be caused by having a poor body image. Convey that the value of a person is independent of her appearance.

6. Let Him Know That Appearance Doesn't Affect Ability

For teenagers ages 12 to 15.

Mantra: Young people often have questions about their changing bodies. Reassure that the size or shape of a penis or breasts does not affect reproductive ability or the ability to be a sexual partner. Appearance may affect how people feel about and act towards others. Express that people with physical disabilities have the same thoughts, feelings, and needs as people without disabilities.

7. Clue Her In On the Secret of Attraction

For teenagers ages 15 to 18.

Mantra: Appearances aren't the sole basis of attraction. An enticing personality, shared interests, and special talents often pull more weight in the area of love and lust. Each person is attracted to different physical qualities. Confidence - accepting and feeling good about your body - is the most attractive quality of all.

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