Society and Body Image and It’s Impact On Our Kids | Dana Suchow | Episode 32
Have you ever heard your teen make a disparaging remark about their looks? The vast majority of teens do and that’s because society and body image messaging is having a profound effect on our teens. 80% of teen girls don’t like their bodies. 50% of teenage girls and 33% of teen boys will engage in unhealthy weight control behaviors. There are messages everywhere—in our culture, our media and social media—telling us that we are not attractive; we aren’t thin enough, we aren’t pretty enough, we aren’t ripped enough. There are even sneaky messages given to teens right inside our homes and coming from us. Dana Suchow is an advocate who works tirelessly to help create awareness and change the culture so our teens (and the rest of us!) can live healthier. On today’s Mighty Parenting Podcast, Dana will open up to Judy Davis and Sandy Fowler about the real problems facing our families and what parents can do to turn the tide and protect our teens.
A Favorite Quote from the Show:
We need to see and compliment kids’ insides, not their outsides.
High Points From The Body Image Interview:
80% of teen girls don’t like their bodies.
65% of teen girls have eating disorders.
80% of women avoid events in their lives because of how they look.
We are so wrapped up in our external appearance that it is actually holding us back; there are things we won’t attempt or goals we won’t go after because we are unhappy with our appearance.
There are 3 big components contributing to the problem: diet culture, media and advertising, and social media.
Our culture is obsessed with being thin, with being on a diet. It’s now being reported that there are kids at age 5 say they would rather lose a parent than get fat.
Media and advertising have zero representation of other bodies. People who are fat or differently abled are not shown. There is just this one body type that is represented and that we are striving for—and it doesn’t even exist because it’s been photo shopped.
And then there’s social media. Everyone is putting their perfect, curated life on line—and that’s not reality.
Parents need to be careful not to disparage their own bodies because it affects not only us, but our kids as well. Our children love us and they see us as perfect so they don’t like to hear us disparage ourselves. Then, they realize that they look like us and share traits with us so, if we disparage our own body, they may think, “If I look like her/him, then is my body disgusting?”
Don’t body shame yourself. Don’t disparage your body. Don’t say, “Ugh, I need to eat a salad because I didn’t exercise.” “Ugh, I don’t like my thighs.” “Ugh, I feel fat.” Your voice is going to become your child’s inner dialogue.
Diet culture isn’t only about weight, it can be about good foods and bad foods or exercise, etc. Almost every family has some aspect of diet culture and it can lead to issues and eating disorders.
Orthorexia is an eating disorder. It’s an obsession around clean eating. We have a lot of disordered eating disguised as healthy, disguised as good. We end up rewarding this, telling them they are virtuous because they ate healthy or only vegetables, but they are hurting themselves.
Diet culture is a $66 billion/year industry that tells us over and over that your body is not good; of course you’re going to internalize them. Corporations have psychiatrists and therapist, and sales people and business people all working at the best marketing angle to get you to hate something that you didn’t know you hated. You’re up against a lot so remove the shame. It’s now a new day and a new start.
Tips for parents on how to improve your teens’ body image:
Learn about diet culture
Don’t body shame ourselves
Stop joining in group body shaming conversations
Stop body checking ourselves
Open up conversations with your teens
See and focus on kids’ insides
Allow boys to be soft, vulnerable, cry
See kids’ insides, not their outsides. Tell them how smart, creative, loving, empathetic they are. If their hair is cute, instead of saying that, tell them how talented they must be to create that hairstyle. If their outfit is great, compliment them on their creativity. Compliment their interior in a way that empowers them instead of complimenting their exterior.
What about our boys? We tell them from a young age they have to be tough, be a man, they can’t be empathetic or soft. We have to allow boys to be vulnerable, be soft, cry.
Since overcoming Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder and exercise compulsion that resulted in permanent injuries, Dana Suchow has become an expert in the field of body image and eating disorder prevention. Offering a nonclinical and holistic approach, Dana will teach you how to put your child on a path towards body love, empowerment and self-acceptance. Dana is an international speaker, and for years she has worked with audiences of 10 to auditoriums of over 1,000. She is a frequent Summit Panelist and Keynote Speaker and has given 15-minute talks to 3-hour workshops. Dana works with all school levels, from Elementary School to College, appearing in person or by video.
In 2012 Dana founded DoTheHotpants.com as a fashion blog, but once she realized fashion’s unattainable beauty standards were fueling her eating disorder, Dana made the difficult decision to leave the industry and focus on eating disorder activism. In 2014 Dana founded #MyBodyStory, an ongoing storytelling series created to uplift girl’s and women’s voices that so often go unheard.
Dana currently lives in New York City and holds a Masters Degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. You can find her on Good Morning America, The Oprah Winfrey Network, Vogue, Huffington Post, Yahoo, ELLE, Seventeen Magazine and more!
Judy Davis and Sandy Fowler are entrepreneurs who help people live better lives. After creating DASIUM they realized they could help parents avoid the challenges and pain they experienced. Mighty Parenting is what families need to get real, relevant information about raising teens and parenting young adults in today's world.
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