Monday, December 21, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Girls and Body Image

With the recent untimely death of Brittany Murphy, many are mourning the loss of a young, sparklingly actress. There have been reports that Brittany Murphy was concerned about her body image.

When negative events happen, it can be an opportunity to open doors to an awareness of important topics that need to be discussed with our teens.

There are a vast amount of resources to help parents talk to their teens about body image, eating disorders and other issues many teens struggle with today. Peer pressure can be a driving force and it is critical parents keep their lines of communication open with their teens, especially if they are becoming withdrawn and secretive.

Dara Chadwick, author of You'd Be So Pretty If...., offers a wealth of information on girls suffering with body image issues as well as helping parents recognize although they are not perfect, they can help their daughters through their own faults.

Today Dara Chadwick added to her educational blog about Tips for the Holiday Food Truce:

•The only person you can control is you. If mom's pushing pie on you and you'd rather not partake, don't. It's that simple. On the flip side, mom, if you offer a treat and your daughter says, "No, thanks," try not to see it as a judgment of you, your cooking or your mothering. It's just pie.
•You don't have to voice every thought you have. If your daughter has, in fact, put on weight since the last time you saw her, trust me, she already knows. Telling her will just create bad feelings. On the flip side, daughter, if you've become a vegetarian since your last visit home, now is not the time to launch into a judgmental critique of your parents' meat-eating habits. Save it for another day.
•Watch the "helpful" suggestions that really aren't. Mom, if you're concerned about your daughter's weight, please don't say, "Wouldn't you rather have some nice salad?" when she reaches for the candied yams. If you don't want her to eat candied yams, just don't make them. No food should be off-limits to just one person at the table.
•Build the right kind of holiday memories. Alcohol, stress and fatigue can make many of us short-tempered and quick to speak. Remember that your words and actions are building memories -- do you really want your daughter to remember holiday dinners as events where she felt judged and not good enough? Trust her to make her own decisions about food and honor the person she is -- not just the outer package she comes in.

Learn more about Dara Chadwick at She has written for many publications including Psychology Today, Family Circle, Washington Post and many more.

Follow Dara Chadwick on Twitter at @DaraChadwick

Learn more about eating disorders.

Most important, be an educated parent - you will have healthier teens!

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