Body Image Influenced by Families
By: Jen Van Dame
AmeriCorps VISTA Public Affairs Specialist
Girls Inc. of Greater Indianapolis
In a world where body dissatisfaction begins at such a young age in our girls, the influence of parents and other trusted adults cannot be undervalued. Positive dialogue about the body is truly impactful. According to a survey conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute, 5 in 10 girls believe their family influences the way they feel about their bodies. In fact, family was found to be more influential than the media. Only 1 in 3 believed that media influenced their body image.
Unfortunately, this sort of communication is often lacking. In a 2008 survey by the Dove® Self-Esteem Fund, a national partner of both Girls Incorporated® and Girl Scouts of the USA, a top wish among all girls was for their families to communicate better with them, including more frequent and open conversations about what is happening in their own lives.
Initiating these conversations may not be easy, but the outcome is invaluable. With your help, we can inspire all girls to be healthy and confident. You can promote healthy body image by:
- Complementing your girl on her abilities and personal qualities rather than her appearance. Basing competence on characteristics others than appearance has proven associations with more positive self-esteem in girls. Always remind her that her self-worth is not measured by inches and pounds.
- Encouraging your girl to have pride in her appearance without insisting that she looks a particular way. Keeping in mind reasonable boundaries of health and modesty, try to be accepting of the way your girl expresses herself with her appearance.
- Setting a good example. Inspire healthy body image in your girl by modeling appropriate attitudes and behaviors in your own life. Your girl is watching.
On Sunday, November 6th, Women’s Fund of Central Indiana, Girls Inc. of Greater Indianapolis, and Girl Scouts of Central Indiana will host a panel discussion and workshop to more thoroughly address what parents, schools, and communities can do to help girls reverse negative body image. Though registration for the girl program is full, we invite caring adults to join the conversation.