Teens and Body Image

I stood there watching all these 8th grade girls take selfies from all different angles. Then they all gathered around the phone and inspected the photos. Then they deleted and started over. Finally after 10 minutes they had a set of 5 photos they liked. Then these photos were edited and filtered and touched upped and finally shared via Snapchat and Instagram. Sound familiar? That means you are around teenage girls alot. The self image and self awareness is so important to themselves. They are serious about their image and their photos. If their photos do not get enough likes on Insta, cue hip lingo, then they delete. If they are not getting enough views on TikTok, delete. So they are aware of the image and social media status. So how does this affect them? They believe you have to be camera ready all the time and what happens if they are not? Lets look at an example.

In October of 2020 a picture of Billie Eilish leaving somewhere was taken. In it she was not wearing her usual baggy oversized clothes. No, she was wearing a tank top and sweat shorts. The media storm and comments that followed honestly shocked me. Now for you parents that do not know who Billie Eilish is, let me introduce you to her. First, she’s an multi Grammy winning musician. She is 19. She has sold millions of albums. She came from out of nowhere. I am not a fan of her lyrics. She has body image issues. She is kind to her fans. She still lives at home, which along with her brother, is where she recorded her Grammy winning album. She has a issue with her body so much that she used to cut herself. Then this photo was released and all the comments really made me pay attention. She has always wore baggy clothes for a couple of reasons. First, she said that she wanted to be judged on her music and not on her looks. Second, she has stated that she hates her body so she chooses to cover it up. So the comments ranged from making fun of her body to calling her a sellout. People did not like that she was wearing a tank top and called her a sellout for using her “sexuality” to sell albums. Others made fun of her body shape, or her body color, or her breasts, or her wardrobe choice. There were so many negative comments and reactions. Of course there were thousands of positive comments supporting her but we all know that the negative comments are the ones we hear. She went on to talk about it in the March issue of Vanity Fair. http://www.vanityfair.com/style/2021/01/the-charming-billie-eilish-march-cover

So how does this affect our teenage girls? There are so many issues that our girls suffer from. They think they are too skinny, too fat, they don’t like this or that about their bodies. They all have to be filtered. They, like Billie, are also getting negative comments on their pics and post. They, like Billie, struggle with those comments and in turn struggle with their body image. So as a parent how do we deal with this issue. Here are three conversation starters.

  1. All through history women have been held to impossible standards.

This topic is one all moms know. This is a great place to start talking to your teen girls about how society tells us what women “should” look like. How they should dress, and what beauty trends they should follow.

2. You are made to be special and unique.

This is a Biblical foundation. We are all made in the image of God. In that image we are made perfect and made to fulfill a perfect role.

3. Modest is Hottest.

There is nothing wrong with modesty. Our culture will tell these young girls the opposite though. They tell 13 year old girls to be sexy and to dress sexy. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but 13 year old girls are not designed to be sexy. Talk to your daughters about modesty and what it means.

Conversations are how change begins. Lots of our teenage girls have major body issues and that leads to depression, suicidal thoughts, self harm, and suicide. Do some research parents. Have these conversations. Listen to these girls. Tell them God made them perfect!

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