5 steps to help boost your daughter's body image
Rebecca Sparrow is Suncorp’s #TeamGirls ambassador and a best-selling author, columnist, podcast host and passionate advocate for teenage girls. Rebecca regularly visits high schools to present to students, and has developed a range of resources to help girls navigate their way through their formative years.
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1. Have a girls’ night in and watch Embrace
“Your body is a vehicle not an ornament” is the call to arms of body image expert Taryn Brumfitt. There’s no better way to kick off a body image conversation than by watching Taryn Brumfitt’s extraordinary body image documentary Embrace. In the film Taryn travels the world speaking to every day women, experts and celebrities about the body image issues so many of us face in her attempt to better understand why so many women are at war with their own bodies. Described as ‘life-changing” this documentary seeks to find solutions as well as pinpoint the cause of the issue.
2. Get moving
Some teens love playing sport and team sports in particular do more than just help us keep fit - they teach our girls about co-operation, fair play and the importance of team spirit. But for those girls who loathe the idea of sport, it’s still important to be active and to move your body. Remind her – you don’t have to be sporty to walk the dog! Rollerblading, trampolining, dancing, bike riding, hiking, running, skipping, skateboarding … they’re all activities you can enjoy. To be healthy your body needs to move so grab a pair of sneakers and a water bottle and head outside together.
3. Curate her social media feed
Grab a hot chocolate and chat with her about her social media feed and the influence is has on her self-image and how she sees the world. It’s time to ditch the fitspo models! Instead ensure your daughter is following women and organisations that remind her of her intrinsic value as a human being and who focus on women’s ideas and achievements rather than the size of their jeans. Suggestions include:
- The Body Image Movement
Celebrating body diversity and body positivity – a site created by Australia’s Taryn Brumfitt (AWESOME! And Australian!).
- Atlas of Beauty
The site describes itself thus: ‘Female photographer Mihaela Noroc travels and captures the natural beauty around the world showing the diversity of our planet through portraits of women.’
- Beauty Redefined
A not-for-profit site dedicated to redefining the meaning and value of beauty in our lives.
- Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls
Who doesn’t love Amy Poehler? Right? This is a great resource for female role models and women doing cool things around the world. Official blurb: “Founded by actor and writer Amy Poehler and producer Meredith Walker, the Smart Girls organisation is dedicated to helping young people cultivate their authentic selves.”
- A Mighty Girl
A Mighty Girl is the world’s largest collection of books, toys, and movies for parents, teachers, and others dedicated to raising smart, confident, and courageous girls.
- Enlighten Education
Enlighten Education run programs in schools to help girls decode the mixed messages they receive. Enlighten is all about girls developing their self-worth. AMAZING Australian organisation!
- Geena Davis Institute On Gender In Media
“If she can see it, she can be it.” Great feminist site about the representation of women in media. This site will arm you with facts and stats. “The Institute is the only research-based organization working within the media and entertainment industry to engage, educate, and influence the need to dramatically improve, gender balance, reduce stereotyping and create diverse female characters in entertainment targeting children 11 and under.”
4. Be a role model
A teen girl’s biggest influence will always be her mum. It’s important to think about the example you set in your home. Are you always complaining about your weight? Do you criticise other people for being over-weight? Do you talk positively in front of your daughter about what you love about your body and how it makes you feel strong? Take note of the tone you set at home and it will encourage your daughter to follow in your footsteps.
5. Everything is a teachable moment
Whether you’re watching The Bachelor together or driving past sexist billboards on the way to school, talk to your daughter to help deconstruct the negative and sexist messages women confront EVERY DAY. Point out how ridiculous it is that women in bikinis are needed to sell hardware! Talk about the photo shopping used in magazine and online images. By calling out the negative messages and media manipulations it helps your daughter unpack the damaging messages the media serve up and reminds her to refuse to be fooled into thinking she’s somehow not enough.
Learn more about the impacts of body image on teenaged girls by listening to one of our #TeamGirls in 10 podcasts, hosted by Rebecca Sparrow!
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