Growing up, I was always a little chubbier than everyone else. In middle school it really started to hit me. My friends were thinner than I, more popular, and better dressed than I was. I quickly started to learn that being myself wasn’t enough. I lacked confidence, didn’t feel pretty, and no longer believed that I fit in.
To fill the void, I started to diet. Each diet was the promise of a brand new life full of popularity, amazing clothes, and happiness. The downfall of each diet was always the same – full of disappointment, anger, and shame. Shame that I lacked control, or willpower, or whatever the skinny girls had to keep themselves so thin.
Now it seems like there is even more pressure on our teenagers to stay skinny. Between the media, magazines, facebook, instagram, pinterest, you name it, teens are taunted daily by what the proper mold for “beauty” they must fit into is. But here are 4 things they aren’t being taught enough about. It’s time to change that:
1. There is more to life than aiming to be “strong”, “skinny”, or “sexy”.
Everything from the “strong is the new sexy” sayings, to the “love your body” campaigns are pushing onto our teens the idea that how your body looks is of the utmost importance. I’ll touch on this in a minute, but having a healthy body, capable of moving, breathing, and living is so much more important than having a body that is beautiful, curvy, strong, or thin.
2. Weight is simply a number on a scale and not an accurate measurement of health.
I still have memories of the pediatric growth chart from the doctor’s office, BMI, and finding out whether I was within a healthy weight range. I dreaded doctor’s appointments for that sole reason. I thought my weight on a scale was everything and let it define me as a person.
3. Being skinny does not mean that you are healthy.
We are starting to see more and more information encouraging our society to be healthy. While this message, as a whole is great, it is not being done in the right way. Health is still being determined by BMI and a food pyramid sending the message that a “normal” weight equals good health. Research has shown that this is simply not the case. Don’t believe me? Pick up a copy of Health at Every Size and start reading.
4. What you eat is not the problem, how you feel in your body is.
I tried diet after diet, desperate to finally have a thin body, but the problem was, even when I got to my thinnest weight, it wasn’t enough. The problem was not that I lacked willpower, ate bad foods, or didn’t skip enough meals; the problem was that I didn’t have a positive body image. My body “failed me” by gaining weight because I thought it was a failure. If this is the only thing you teach your teen, teach her that she and everyone else are enough regardless of their shape or size.