FOX61 Family First: Being a role model to your teen when talking about body image

HARTFORD -- We as adult know that social media is full of pictures of people living their best lives. It`s not always *real* life.. or at least *everyday real life.

What we’re seeing and viewing as “reality” can be damaging to our mental health, when we constantly look at images of perfection, but especially damaging to our kids and young adults who don`t yet have a strong sense of self-esteem and confidence.

Instagram fitness star Sia Cooper, who has more than 1.2 million followers got real on her feed, calling out how social media can make people feel like they’re not good enough.

With her body all marked up with a black marker she says: "when you go to a plastic surgeon's office, they mark your body just like this-depending on what you're having done. I know. I've been there once," she wrote in a post, which currently has over 23,000 likes.

"All of the markings represent what's not 'perfect enough' for us to accept on our own bodies but cosmetic surgery doesn't make you feel better”, she wrote,” in fact, you only feel better when you start to accept the things you shouldn't be changing in the first place.”

Dr. Laura Saunders from Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living has advice to help us, as parents, make sure we’re doing the right things to encourage our children to love themselves, inside and out.

"There is tremendous pressure on adolescent girls (and all women) to fit an ideal body image," Saunders said. "Because young people are bombarded by polished and brushed images of women on social media. Women, especially young women, tend to compare their bodies to the media’s portrayal of what a woman’s body should look like and often feel forced to meet this unrealistic body image.”

Saunders reminds parents to:

  • Focus on behaviors and not image: Goal is to be physically active, engage in more positive and healthful behaviors to become more comfortable with their bodies which contribute to improved self-worth.
  • Talk to your teens about how they feel about themselves
  • Be a role model for accepting your body and focus on healthy habits.
  • Discuss role models and their accomplishments and qualities, and not body image.
  • Monitor/pay attention to how your teens describe and talk about others