7 Tips for Fostering Body Positivity in Adolescence

Recently, we shared six tips for fostering body positivity in childhood, which is an incredibly important step in creating a healthy foundation for your children. But, let’s be real, teenagers are a very different beast – and there aren’t any Daniel Tiger episodes to help. Adolescence is a rollercoaster for a variety of reasons, and it’s also a prime time for self-consciousness, comparison, and low self-esteem. The things you do and say have a huge impact, even if you’ve got a teen that doesn’t seem to pay much attention. Here are seven tips for fostering body positivity in adolescence.


Be an example of body positivity.

This was basically our thesis of last week’s blog, but it’s the biggest one we want to drill home. If you’re preaching to your teen that they should love their body while you’re simultaneously hating on yours, it’s not going to work. If you’re complaining about weight gain or lamenting your body in a swimsuit, they’re going to learn to be self-critical.

Watch what you say about others in your teen’s presence, too. It may seem harmless to comment on a actor’s body or a singer’s appearance, but even those sort of statements can teach your child that a) those things are of critical importance and b) there are certain ways that people should look. In short, understand, accept, embrace, and demonstrate body positivity yourself, and you’re giving your teen a gift.


… but also be authentic and honest.

While it’s important to be extremely cognizant about what you say in front of your children, it’s equally important to be genuine with them. No one’s body image is rainbows and sunshine all the time, and your teen should know that it’s normal to feel less-than-great sometimes. If you discuss your own struggles and thoughts regarding body image, they’ll be more likely to share theirs. You can’t expect honesty and authenticity from your teen if you’re not giving it back.


Talk about unrealistic beauty standards in the media.

As an avid consumer of social media, reality tv, magazines – all the most mind-numbing things – I’ve discovered that nothing is as it appears. Between surgical enhancements, injections, filters, Photoshop, you name it, there’s a way to enhance nearly everything. And while I will never shame anyone for boosting their appearance in whatever way they see fit, I DO have an issue when it is passed off as natural and others are made to feel less than. Talk to your teen about this. Talk to them about just how edited and enhanced everything is, and how pointless it is to make comparisons. Help them become smart consumers of media who can separate what is real and what is not.


Provide a wide variety of foods.

Help them create a healthy relationship with food by making food FUN! Introduce them to different kinds of food, whether you’re cooking new meals or just mixing up the snacks in your pantry. Model what it looks like to have a healthy relationship with food by eating varied foods, trying new things, and never labeling any food as “good” and “bad.” Demonstrate what it looks like to eat for your body and for your soul.


Promote physical movement in your home.

If your child is an athlete, cheer them on and make sure all compliments are targeted toward their performance, not their bodies or appearance. If they’re not in organized sports, plan physical family activities, whether that’s a long walk, rock climbing, or a Saturday at a trampoline park. Model exercise for enjoyment. In short, show them that exercise is fun and is something we should do to keep our bodies healthy, not to look a certain way.


Encourage activities that foster confidence and self-worth.

Give your children a dozen reasons to feel good about themselves for reasons that don’t include their appearance. Plan a day of family volunteering so they can feel the joy that comes with giving back. Cultivate their creative side by taking them to a paint night. Gift them a book about their favorite hobby. In short, just help them notice and appreciate all of their other amazing passions and attributes.


Don’t forget about your sons.

Women and girls are NOT the only people who have body image issues, and these tips and reminders are just as beneficial for your sons as they are for your daughters. Often, we talk about this topic as if it only affects women, which winds up being incredibly damaging to men.


At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember is this: if you want to raise body positive children, you have to practice body positivity yourself. If you are not walking the walk, it will be much harder to talk the talk. While these tips are intended to benefit your children, you might be surprised at how much they can benefit you.