Many members of the female population, especially the teenage ones, suffer from eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. Mainly due to the pressure posed by the society to be skinny, they resort to manipulating their meals to feel that they are conforming to the norms. However, the disorders that arise from their unhealthy activities are not very easy to deal with. What is truly vital is the primary prevention where it should be done even before a girl feels bad about her body.
How one sees her body is one of the many components of self-image. However, more often than not, people tend to see and think that how they look is the most important of all, leaving who they really are behind. And it is a notion all of us should go against. When a person deems how they look as something more significant than who she really is, the foundation for life-changing and even life-threatening eating disorders is laid.
To discourage these unhealthy behaviors and to teach them the truly important things in life, here are some tips for parents.
First, parents should accept that puberty will surely influence a girl’s perception of their bodies. They would prefer to look a certain way since it is the stage where they start discovering themselves. However, when their behaviors appear unhealthy and unsafe, be ready to step in and interfere.
Also, do not reinforce the false idealisms of the society that women should look a certain way. Do not tell them that they need pounds of makeup, to have well-defined collarbones, flat tummies, and thigh gaps to look beautiful. Instead, remind them that beauty comes along in all shapes and sizes and that the truly brilliant people see and know that.
In addition, inform them of the changes that occur naturally during puberty. It is perfectly normal to gain weight. There is no problem in gaining weight as long as it is healthy and poses no threat to one’s health condition.
Inform girls of how the images projected by media are unrealistic for most, if not really ever woman. Most pictures on magazines and billboards are electronically altered to make the models look “perfect”. Also, not because they do not look the way those models look does not make them any less beautiful.
It is also important to take girls seriously for everything they say, feel, and do and not merely for how they look. Remember that who a person truly is far more important than how she looks like.
Encourage young people to be physically active and have fun doing such activities to discover their abilities and to promote a healthy lifestyle.
Never compare her to other girls and do not be judgmental about how others look like. It would just boost her insecurity and push her into unhealthy habits and lead to serious problems like eating disorders.
It is also very important to serve as an example of healthy attitudes about one’s body. Girls need to see more of confident women who are satisfied and happy with their bodies.