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Causes of a
negative body
Maintaining a healthy body image
during adolescence is often diffcult for
girls. Factors that may harm a girl’s body
image include:
Having a mother who’s overly
concerned about her own weight or
her daughter’s weight or appearance
Natural weight gain and other
changes caused by puberty
Peer pressure to look a certain way
Media images that promote the ideal
female body as thin
Being teased about her weight
Consequences of
a negative body
If your daughter doesn’t feel she lives
up to the ideal body image promoted by
friends, family and the media, she may
begin to feel inadequate and ashamed of
her body — even if she’s not overweight.
Girls who feel dissatisfed with their
bodies are at higher risk of developing
mental health problems, including:
Low self-esteem
Eating disorders
Having a negative body image also
may lead to skipping meals or a cycle
of dieting, losing weight and regaining
weight — which can further harm self-
esteem. A negative body image may
even result in a desire for cosmetic
surgery. Some research suggests a link
between body dissatisfaction among
girls and cigarette smoking, possibly
because girls may believe that smoking
will help them control their weight.
Having a negative body image also may
affect a girl’s comfort with her sexuality
as she grows.
Talking about body
Talking about body image with
your daughter can help her become
comfortable with her body shape and
relate to food in a healthy way. When
you discuss body image, you might:
Explain the effects of puberty and
genetics. Make sure your daughter
understands that weight gain is
a normal part of her development,
especially during puberty. Explain
that body shape also is largely
infuenced by genetic factors.
Discuss media messages. Television
programs, movies, music videos,
Web sites, magazines and even
some children’s toys may send your
daughter the message that only a
certain body type is acceptable.
Check out what your daughter is
reading or watching and discuss it
with her. Encourage her to talk about
and question what she’s seen or
Discuss self-image. Talk to your
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