Wednesday, February 18th, 2015
It’s well known that many Americans, especially women, dislike their bodies. Much of the blame for this problem is placed on the media for airbrushing models and celebrities into unrealistic, typically unattainable beauties — and on society for glorifying these retouched versions of people.
We usually assume that the battle with negative self-image begins when adolescents hit puberty, but a new report from Common Sense Media suggests that these issues are beginning even earlier than that. Although the report is not comprehensive, information was compiled from numerous body image studies to determine what influences a child’s attitudes and behaviors, and at what age.
Researchers discovered that children begin to express concerns about their bodies as young as age 5. And at this young age, parents usually play a role in influencing their kids — as Common Sense Media notes, “you are your child’s first teacher,” meaning that kids can still pick up on subtle but negative body image message you give (even if you’re not harshly criticizing your body).
Even though body image research is often focused on girls, boys are influenced, too. According to the report, one-third of boys (and more than half of girls) between the ages of 6 and 8 believe an ideal body is thinner than their current body size. And 1 in 4 kids have already tried dieting by age 7. And get this—while a Barbie-like physique is knowingly unattainable, the measurements of male action figures surpass the measurements of even the largest bodybuilders!
To counteract the negative body image, Common Sense suggests that you talk openly about appreciating your body, steer clear of commenting on others’ appearances, and participate in healthy habits for your well-being (and not just to look better in the dress you’re wearing soon!).
“A lot of the negative body image comes from internal views of oneself, and when you can really shift that conversation from how someone looks to how someone feels, then kids can really start to think about what their choices are, and how they have control over how they feel, and that brings positive self-esteem and self-awareness,” says Seeta Pai, vice president of research for Common Sense Media and author of the report.
Also: Read these tips on how to talk to your kids about body image.
Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn
Image: Girl looking in mirror via Shutterstock
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Friday, May 2nd, 2014
Almost a third of mothers say they like their bodies–stretch marks, scars, and all–after having had babies more than they liked their bodies before pregnancy, according to a new survey of 3,000 moms. More from Today.com:
Although 70 percent of women said they feel worse about how their body looks after having kids, 30 percent of moms like their body better and feel more “powerful and confident” in their looks, according to a 2013 TODAY.com survey of more than 3,000 women.
“I went through the body image thing a lot of girls go through in college, when I was fixated on my body and my weight,” says Leslie Goldman of Chicago, mom of a 2-year-old daughter who is expecting her second child in six weeks. “None of that was a part of my life after my late twenties, but postpartum is still so freeing and empowering for me to watch my body in a whole new light, healing from surgery and still producing food to feed my baby.”
While Goldman felt a bit self-conscious about her C-section scar in the beginning — when it was “very red and kind of puckery” — now, in the gym locker room, she’s happy she has a physical sign of motherhood and views other women with C-section scars as kindred spirits. “I’m sure many women working out are moms,” Goldman says. “But when I see the C-section scar, I know we went through the same thing and it’s a signifier we’re all in this together.”
Image: New mom, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, February 14th, 2013
A survey of more than 3,000 mothers conducted by The Today Show has revealed that 31 percent of moms use the word “hate” in describing their body image. The survey was conducted online, and is not a scientific finding, but it is an interesting window into how mothers see themselves and their bodies. More from Today.com:
Almost two-thirds of women say they worry their partner doesn’t like their body, according to our online, unscientific poll. Two-thirds of moms also say images of Hollywood moms looking super-fit after having a baby make them feel worse about themselves.
“We live in a culture of judgment, and a culture that really expects women to be perfect and have perfect bodies no matter what else you have going on in your life,” says Michelle Noehren, creator of the CT Working Moms blog and the mom of a toddler who bared her not-so-perfect tummy in a moms’ photoshoot that went viral last year. As the heaviest member of the group, she got grateful responses from many women – but she also bore the brunt of nasty criticism.
Some days, she’s her own worst critic.
“I think to myself, ‘I still can’t fit into any of the clothes that I had before pregnancy’,” she said. “Sometimes I just wish I could put those pants on and wear them to work and feel comfortable again. My husband tells me I’m beautiful all the time, but sometimes I worry that I’m not as attractive to him as I used to be.”
Image: Woman looking in mirror, via Shutterstock
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Friday, February 1st, 2013
Taipei, Taiwan is now home to the first-ever Barbie-themed restaurant, complete with stiletto-shaped bar stools, tiaras galore, and tutu-clad waitresses. The city is already home to a Hello Kitty cafe, but the Barbie restaurant is likely to raise the eyebrows of American parents who are not fans of the body image message Barbie sends to girls.
More from CNN.com:
Licensed by U.S. toymaker Mattel, Taiwan restaurant company Sinlaku on Wednesday opened the Barbie Café on Zhongxiao road, one of the busiest shopping districts in the capital, Taipei.
The café’s decoration, costing TW$50 million (US$1.7 million), is mostly in suitably Barbie-style magenta and pink.
The furniture couldn’t be more princess-y — bar tables look like the heel of a stiletto, chair backs resemble bustiers (some with a tutu) and chandeliers are shaped like elegant teapots and teacups with saucers. Barbie dolls and logos adorn walls and tabletops.
The restaurant also has a gigantic Barbie box allowing customers to step in and feel like a packaged up, life-size Barbie.
Waitresses wear tutus and tiaras while their male counterparts try, mostly in vain, to look like Ken, Barbie’s on-off squeeze.
Barbie’s abnormally, and anatomically-challenging, slim figure may diminish some appetites. With that in mind, the restaurant menu has been designed by professional nutritionists, local media reported (Chinese). There’s a calorie chart on the first page of the menu, with calorie data listed alongside each item.
Image: Barbie-style pink sofa, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, November 20th, 2012
A growing number of boys are becoming obsessed with something that has long been a reality for tween and teenaged girls–body image. But instead of wanting to be lean and thin, these boys are after bulked-up, muscle-bound bodies, and they are going to great lengths to get them. From The New York Times:
“Pediatricians are starting to sound alarm bells about boys who take unhealthy measures to try to achieve Charles Atlas bodies that only genetics can truly confer. Whether it is long hours in the gym, allowances blown on expensive supplements or even risky experiments with illegal steroids, the price American boys are willing to pay for the perfect body appears to be on the rise.
In a study to be published on Monday in the journal Pediatrics, more than 40 percent of boys in middle school and high school said they regularly exercised with the goal of increasing muscle mass. Thirty-eight percent said they used protein supplements, and nearly 6 percent said they had experimented with steroids.
Over all, 90 percent of the 2,800 boys in the survey — who lived in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, but typify what doctors say is a national phenomenon — said they exercised at least occasionally to add muscle.
“There has been a striking change in attitudes toward male body image in the last 30 years,” said Dr. Harrison Pope, a psychiatry professor at Harvard who studies bodybuilding culture and was not involved in the study. The portrayal of men as fat-free and chiseled “is dramatically more prevalent in society then it was a generation ago,” he said.”
Image: Teenager lifting weights, via Shutterstock
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