Family Magazine

Body Shaming in Teenagers – How to Escape This Growing Trend!

By Shwetashetye

Few days back, it was in the newspapers that a mother was feeding tapeworms to her teenage daughter so she can lose weight! No matter how many times we hear, never judge a book by its cover, we all fall prey to judging people by what they are wearing or by their physical appearances. In teenagers, especially, it reaches dangerous levels when due to peer pressure, they take it to a different level and start experimenting with their looks in such a way that it may pose long term health hazards. Body shaming is a growing trend that we cannot afford to ignore!

Parents are left baffled when their chubby little angel turns a teenager and suddenly words like ‘’dieting’’ “calories’’ and ‘’piercings’’ start popping up.  And it’s not limited to a girl child, even teenage boys understand the need to look well-groomed and attractive as soon as they hit puberty.

There is nothing wrong in looking presentable and there is nothing wrong in taking good care of one’s hygiene but what good are teens if they don’t touch some extremes and leave their parents purple in the face. Step in extreme diets to look reed thin like that teen magazine’s cover model, weird hair colors, haircuts, piercings, tattoos and strangest choices in clothes and footwear.

As a parent we are left gasping for air to survive the teen years of our kids. Relax. After all, it’s unfair not to give them chance to experiment. It’s their life and they have the right to explore and choose. However, like all baffling parental advice- DO NOT relax too much either!! Keep a hawk’s eyes and swoop in if the ‘’experimenting’’ goes wayward.

However, there’s something that we all need to do as parents, and that is to EDUCATE them before giving them a free run of the cosmetics aisle. Here are few pointers-

Educate them about physical fitness

Tell them that a healthy body is required to do all that experimenting. And healthy does not in any way means THIN. Explain how eating right and exercising will lead to optimum body weight and height. Explain that being on extreme diets can lead to weak bones, skin irruptions and hair loss which, anyways a teenager wants to avoid.

Explain basic hygiene which is not to be compromised at any cost- There are phases when being kool means being grungy. If your teen is going through this phase, take deep calming breaths and explain how brushing teeth, taking a bath, wearing clean cloths and combing their hair are some basics which you are not letting go of. Keep your tone casual and cheerful else be prepared to hear ‘’mom you have no idea!!’’

Keep the communication channels open

Just in case they want to try a new hair color or body piercing, see to it that they are not hesitant to talk to you about it. If you are unable to dissuade them from the horrific (to us) idea, at least you’ll be able to help them make an informed choice. Inform them about how hair colors are chemical cocktails and can harm their hair in the long run. Or in case of tattoos and body piercings, how using a sterilized needle and going to a certified person is absolute must.

Last but not the least, explain how being comfortable and confident in their own body is the best favor they can do to themselves. Tell them that there’s no end to changing the outer appearance of one’s body. But to be confident and compassionate from inside is what is going to make them stand out from the crowd.

While attempting all these conversations, remember to keep your tone casual and conversational. One small hint of you being preachy or high handed and you will be termed the ‘’ Hitler mom’’ or some such highly endearing title. Even if so, you are not giving up…right?

Go ahead, tell us in the comments what issues you faced with teens and their vows with body shaming and physical appearances.

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