Teen Girls and Body Image

We live in a society where a restricted ideal of female beauty and perfection is sensationalized in publications, social media accounts, movies, and influencers who resemble supermodels. It’s not surprising that 98% of girls experience intense pressure from outside sources to appear a specific way. It’s also not unexpected that 92% of young females in a recent survey stated they would like to change something about the way they appear.

Teen girls may engage in harmful behaviors in an effort to obtain what they perceive to be the ideal of female beauty. Nearly 1 in 4 girls now have a clinical diagnosis of depression, eating disorders, self-harm/cutting, or another mental health issue as a result of the pressure to uphold the media’s ideal of female beauty.

This is why at Camp Pocono Trails we focus on building a healthy sense of self-esteem along with building healthy habits to regulate eating, exercise & fitness, and engaging in healthy online habits. While our environment is quickly changing with more temptations than ever, effective solutions have remained constant: eat right, exercise, and self-regulate your daily routine in accordance with your long-term goals.

What Parents Can Do Now

Parents should be aware of the significance of self-esteem, frequent body image problems, and the best ways to assist their daughters in developing confidence, good self-esteem, and a healthy body image. While enrolling your child in Camp Pocono Trails is a great option to combat poor body image in your daughter, you may be wondering what you can do now.

Set an example by loving yourself

Children will likely copy their parents if they are constantly criticizing their appearance or body language. Every time you get on the scale, groan about wanting to lose weight, or criticize yourself in the mirror, your kids are watching.  Instead of putting yourself down, lead by example gives yourself encouragement. In our Self-Esteem Group, we discuss “self-talk” and the importance of framing your deficits in a positive way.

Reduce your attention on appearances and express your gratitude for all the amazing things your body is capable of, such as making you feel good during walks, bike rides, or swims. Instead of saying “I’m fat” you can say, “I’m learning to become a weight controller and I still have a ways to go, but I’ll get there!”

Accept the variety of bodies

If you hear your child criticizing the appearance of someone, whether it’s someone they know, a TV character they see, or a complete stranger; let your child know we are all different. Teach your child that people come in a variety of forms, sizes, and characteristics

Find children’s books that highlight body diversity and acceptance for younger children and read them together.

Avoid even “positive” compliments on appearance

Adults frequently compliment youngsters on their beauty, especially young females. This kind of focus elevates outward appearance and perpetuates ideas that people are more important when they “look nice.” This may make your teen feel more self-critical and increase their concerns.

Adults should place more emphasis on a child’s character traits than their appearance (body, hair, face, or clothing),

Encourage family unity by engaging in healthy activities

Families should engage in enjoyable physical activity and wholesome food because they love doing so rather than because they “have to” or someone is on a diet. This encourages healthy behaviors with an emphasis on utilizing nutrition and exercise to make your body feel good, instead of how it appears and may help prevent harmful diets later in life.

Regular family dinners also provide parents a chance to bond with their children, foster frank discussion about anxieties, and provide a forum for problem-solving.

Teach kids to evaluate media critically

Children live in a world full of unattainable standards. Influencers, celebrities, and even peers frequently use filters and editing to improve photographs, while models in publications and performers in their favorite TV series and movies frequently have similar body proportions that encourage thinness.

At the Summerland Program at Camp Pocono Trails, we discuss how to limit the negative impact of social media. We review scientific research on the effects of social media. We also play games like, “Tweet or Text” where teens can learn the advantages and disadvantages of posting something online publicly versus sharing it privately. Finally, we work with campers to develop goals and self-regulation skills to limit their online use in order to achieve their health, fitness, and academic goals.

Final Thoughts

If your child suffers from a negative body image, they may very well benefit from spending a summer at Camp Pocono Trails. They will learn how to be in control over their weight, caloric intake, fitness level, and online habits. This is an empowering experience that cannot be overstated. We’ve seen miraculous transformations every summer and we welcome your inquiries about our summer camp program.