Parents do not always know what to say to their teens who are struggling with body image issues. Teens are constantly bombarded with societal and media messages about ideal beauty and health.
Companies market products aimed at helping them attain unrealistic standards of beauty and thinness. At a young age, children start comparing themselves to models, celebrities, friends, family members, and social media influencers. They begin to recognize their differences and may see them as inadequacies and deficiencies. They may feel shame, guilt, or embarrassment for not having the perfect body. They may judge others for how they look. And, others may judge them to the point of bullying. Too much time spent thinking and worrying about this can lead to lifelong dissatisfaction with how they look and who they are.
While body image issues can be a struggle for any teen, it can be an additional strain on athletes whose bodies are constantly being watched in practice, gym workouts, and games. For golfers, this can mean many hours per day every day under scrutiny. Tournaments in front of crowds and being followed for an entire round can be particularly stressful for golfers who are overly concerned with how they look. This takes energy and focus away from their ability to play their best golf.
Parents often say things such as: “you are beautiful just the way you are”; “don’t listen to what other people say”; “be your own person”; “you have so much going for you”.
These are all great, but teens may not believe it unless they internalize the sentiments themselves. They need to practice fundamental skills and engage in positive self-care behaviors to help them build lifelong body positivity.
So, how do we help our teens internalize and believe in their own body positivity?