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revised February 17, 2023

Arrow BulletFostering Healthy Body Image in Children and Teens

Healthy Body Image

Fostering healthy body image means helping children and teens to...
  • Resist the pressure to strive for the "perfect" body.
  • Find more lasting and meaningful ways to feel good about themselves than weight and appearance.
  • Know how to take care of their bodies.
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Body Image
for Girls

In Western society, girls learn at a very young age that they are valued or rejected based on their looks and body shape. Body image pressure is even more intense as girls reach their teens and gain normal body fat for storage of female hormones and reproductive function. This natural change in body size and shape moves girls further away from the current female "ideal" - which above all else is thin.
  • Negative body image is affecting both girls and boys, and is surfacing at increasingly younger ages.
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Body Image
for Boys

In Western society, boys tend to be valued more for what they do and for their physical strength than for their looks. The body changes that boys experience with puberty moves them closer to the male ideal of big and strong. However, the current male "ideal" - lean and muscular - is putting increasing body image pressure on boys and young men also.
  • Children outside the "average" for weight and shape often face cruel comments and isolation.
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Negative Body Image

  • Negative body image may be a risk to your child's growth, learning, physical and emotional well being. We live in a culture that is obsessed with appearance, phobic about fat, in love with junk food, and physically inactive.
  • Fostering healthy body image in your children and teens is a challenge.
  • Learn what you can do to make a difference.
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Revised: February 17, 2023

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