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Old 06-29-2010, 08:50 PM   #1
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Default Body Image

Awhile back, I posted that I was a presenter for a Body Image/Self-Esteem workshop for teens. Well, they've asked me to be a part of the leadership team for the next workshop and I'm tasked with coming up with new ideas for presentations.

So, I thought I'd come here and ask you all what you wish adults had said to you when you were younger regarding body image? If you're a parent of a teen, what would you want your son/daughter to hear (and yes, they're finally addressing boys and body image!!!)? Have you read/seen any great material you think would make a great topic?

And, umm... this is the first time I've started a thread, on Dims or any other board, so please be gentle with me.
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Old 06-29-2010, 09:31 PM   #2
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Probably the only thing I never heard as a kid from anyone was that it was OK just to be the way I was. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, was ever good enough for my family because I was not skinny. Mind you, I wasn't exactly what you would call big, either, but I wasn't thin, so I was a failure in almost every way. I think this affected my body image and self esteem more than anything else ever did. If you are talking to parents, tell them to let their kids know that they are just fine the way they are, and that no achievements should be tempered by the size of the achiever. Also, just let your kid know that he or she is beautiful no matter what. NEVER say the dreaded "You have such a pretty face, if only you lost.............." line, that is such a harsh thing to say to a kid, believe me, I heard it constantly. That's all I can think of right now.
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Old 06-30-2010, 02:14 PM   #3
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Something I've had to talk to my niece about is her sexuality. Trying to explain that she doesn't have to be half naked to appear sexy has been a challenge. At that age teenage girls are so caught up in the reality of their sexual power that they go a bit overboard in trying to figure out how to use it, so then how they look is everything...all that to say, a discussion about how they feel about their bodies as community property might be helpful. The boys can contribute to because then they can begin to understand how doing stuff like catcalling every "shorty" on the block makes teenage girls feel. As for an issue that boys might talk about is how they feel about their manhood being tied to how they look, that is assuming you can get the boys to actually express those kinds of feelings around the girls....
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Old 07-01-2010, 09:51 AM   #4
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Default Boys and Girls Issues

It seems like it would be beneficial to separate the boys/girls for such discussions. There are common threads, I'm sure. But, I agree that boys especially are MUCH less likely to be open (ie vulnerable) around girls. I think the facilitators being the same sex would also help open dialog.
The boy angle is one I guess I never thought of either. You hear SOOOOO much about teenage girls and the onslaught of image pressure from the media. It makes total sense that boys are also getting pressure on male body image. Just my thoughts.
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Old 07-01-2010, 12:05 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by curveyme View Post
It seems like it would be beneficial to separate the boys/girls for such discussions. There are common threads, I'm sure. But, I agree that boys especially are MUCH less likely to be open (ie vulnerable) around girls. I think the facilitators being the same sex would also help open dialog.
The boy angle is one I guess I never thought of either. You hear SOOOOO much about teenage girls and the onslaught of image pressure from the media. It makes total sense that boys are also getting pressure on male body image. Just my thoughts.
The workshop is currently for girls only, but they also offer some sessions for parents. Thus, the body image for boys is a session targeted for parents and guardians/caregivers.

However, as someone who does co-ed groups with adolescents on a daily basis I have to say that there are times we get into great discussions with both genders present. And then there are those times when I know we're going to have to split up to get at some other topics and issues.

And thanks for the suggestions! We have some presentations identified already, but I knew I would get htrsy ideas from you all.

Please keep sharing your ideas!
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Old 07-01-2010, 01:31 PM   #6
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I think it's important to remind teens that image is used to sell products, and that what we see -- Victoria's Secret models, commercials for make up, etc etc etc -- aren't actually real but highly processed images used to sell a commodity. It's also important to remind them that they are more than "just" their bodies, but that their hearts, spirits, and intellect are even more important, even if they're not always as initially evident.
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Old 07-01-2010, 04:11 PM   #7
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Since it's a body image workshop, I'll echo the "it's ok to just be you and not apologize for your body" - it's a HUGE message and one I wish I'd heard a million years before I did.

I wanted to hear it, I was ready to hear it, but I never did. Once I did I felt freed by it all. That we can all be different and it's ok, that you can still go and do and date and travel and work and learn and thrive and be happy. I lived in a world of "I'll do that when... ".

Dropping that thought process changed my life forever.
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Old 07-01-2010, 06:34 PM   #8
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I think mine would be that my self worth is not based on how much male attention I receive. In my family this was a big thing. Image was everything and I never measure up no matter what I did.

And....I think more positive attention needs to be place on dark skinned girls of African descent. It seems like not many people find us attractive. If they do they will say things, like, "You're pretty for a dark skinned girl." And society in general makes jokes about black girls, dark skin and weaved hair. And it seems that being dark skinned and fat is a big thumbs down.

I hate to bring the race card in, but I'm just calling how I see it.
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Old 07-01-2010, 06:45 PM   #9
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Well in my community, the standard was to have a big, round hips and ass--that was the symbol of femininity. Alot of girls with a small or flat ass didn't feel sexy. A better message would be to flaunt what you have, I guess...not having a great ass or nice boobs doesn't make you less of a woman.
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Old 07-05-2010, 12:40 PM   #10
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I have mixed feelings about posting to this thread, given that it is on the BBW board, but you were also looking for opinion about what to say to younger males, and I once was one, and as my son is currently twelve years old, so I’ve been thinking around this topic (not that I’ve come to any huge insight or grand conclusions). So my apologies if you’d only wanted BBW input in this thread.

I think perhaps the biggest issue with boys and body image is that they’ll tend to lock into one piece of the whole a lot of the time. That they are not really good at integrating a lot of information at one time, so they’ll pick up on one thing and lock in on that being the thing they need to look good or be cool. That thing may be pretty superficial (probably more often than not). So they’ll be certain they need bulging biceps, or a certain brand of clothes, or a motorcycle. And they’ll feel that if they just had that thing, everything else would fall into place. In my generation everyone saw the movie Risky Business, do you notice that everything falls into place for him when he goes out in his dad’s Porsche? Or the old ads about the 98 pound weakling who starts working out the Charles Atlas way and becomes muscular, and also popular, king of the beach, etc. It is that kind of logic, that there is some magic ingredient, and you just need that ingredient, that I think is maybe the most common image pitfall for boys.

Of course, that magic ingredient could be an absence, like getting rid of glasses, acne, a belly.

The hard thing about arguing against that thinking is that such an ingredient might grab a bunch of attention, and having it may in fact give them the confidence to help everything else fall into effect, sort of an image placebo effect. More broadly, praise that they get, or teasing/bullying that they get, may well focus on one particular area. That thing may not really be the cause of the praise or teasing, but it is the most obvious thing. Why do the girls all like Joe the football star? A lot of kids will say “Well, because he’s really fit and muscular.” It probably has more to do with his being a star, the hours of hard work that he’s put in, the confidence that he has because he knows that he’s good at what he does, plus other character traits that make him appealing. Frank the bitter loner could become as fit and muscular, without ever becoming as popular (in fact he’d probably just become seen as more threatening, not to mention weird for being so obsessed with working out).

I think the strongest message you can send to boys is that young women will respond more to who they are as a whole person than to one superficial brand. That someone who is true to themselves, who is a stand-up guy that people can rely on, who doesn’t try to fake who they are, will make the biggest impression. Or to put it another way, that it is the means more than the ends—that you may get a bunch of attention for being the star in some field or another, but putting in the work to be good in that area will actually make the biggest difference.

How you actually put that into a message that will connect with them, I have no idea.

Which leads into what tipped me into posting in this thread; I want to ask that you share some of your messaging for boys. As a parent I’d love to learn from a professional in this area!

Regards;

-Ed
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