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A scary, growing trend for girls to body shame

by | Jun 19, 2024 | Parenting, Teenagers | 0 comments

I was recently in a coaching session with a vibrant, beautiful teen girl who started sharing how much she hates how she looks.  From the length of her legs to the perceived wrinkles on her hands, she criticized almost every inch of her body!  Sadly this is not the first time I’ve been in a coaching session with a teen girl who was unable to acknowledge or appreciate her natural beauty and was caught in the negative cycle of body shame.

Alarming statistics* 

  • When girls between the ages of 15 and 17 feel bad about their looks, more than 70 percent avoid normal daily activities, such as attending school, going to the doctor, or even giving their opinions.
  • Seven in 10 girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way including their looks, performance in school, and relationships.
  • Approximately 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape. 

 

Understanding the negative cycle of body shame 

Body-shaming starts with the belief that there is an ideal standard of beauty. As soon as they feel less than or different from the ideal, girls will start to criticize how they look.  Body-shaming thoughts or comments include: 

 

Why don’t I look like her? 

She’s so much prettier than me. 

I’ll never be as perfect as she is.

I hate my…. 

I wish I had…

 

In addition to being detrimental to a girl’s self-esteem, it can trigger extreme dieting, over-exercising, or even requests for surgery.  

 

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Why it’s hard for girls to appreciate how they look

 

The most common reason girls don’t take pride in their appearance is because they don’t want to appear conceited.  They want to avoid being seen as someone who likes themselves “too much.” The more they hear other girls complain about their appearance, the more it becomes a normal part of their self-talk. This internal negative dialogue becomes a way of connecting with other girls.  Listen to any group of girls talk and you are bound to hear things like, 

I hate my lips.

My thighs are too big.

I wish I was as skinny as …  She’s so lucky.

Sometimes these comments are bait for compliments but, more often than not, girls actually believe what they are saying and these conversations become a negative reinforcing loop.  More disturbing is the fact that many girls equate their looks to friendship, happiness, and success.  Many teens believe: The pretty girl always has more friends or I’ll only be happy when I lose ten pounds/ fix my nose/get my hair straightened. 

Social media does not help.  Not only are girls constantly exposed to photoshopped images of “perfection,” but they have access to hundreds of filters that alter their appearance. They become desperate to look like the “perfect”  altered image of themselves and consequently, become even more critical of their natural appearance. 

How you can help

The good news is girls don’t want to body shame.  Most understand how the filters and excessive time on social media negatively impact their self-image.  

But they need support and guidance so they can learn how to feel good about who they are and how they look.  

In the next blog, you’ll learn what you can do to get your daughter out of the negative body shame cycle. 

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