An audience of 60 concerned parents gathered at JewishCare on Wednesday evening, 25 March 2015, to hear experts discuss an issue of prime importance – Promoting Positive Body Image in our Youth.
Psychologist Jennifer Bradon, from Northside Clinic, gave parents a very extensive list of signs to look out for in their children when eating disorders may be being forged. These range from secret use of laxatives and purging, to self-imposed banning of so-called “bad” foods like carbs, or filling up on water prior to a meal and claiming to be too full to eat dinner.
Little did parents know that their own behavior and vocabulary about body image would also come under the spotlight. Comments by parents such as “I feel so fat”, or “I look like a cow in this” were revealed as very unhelpful and damaging to creating positive body image in their children. Parents were discouraged from making such derogatory comments about themselves, based on the damaging effects of their children psychologically modelling such behavior and attitudes.
Media expert Amie Morris, from Project Shine, further empowered parents to take part in the battle against social media, by encouraging them to become familiar with social media such as Instagram, to know what’s out there and what their children are being exposed to. Amie provided invaluable advice on building your child’s self-worth by placing emphasis on their skills and talents, not how they look.
Amie exposed the damaging effects of photo-shop, used extensively in modelling and the media generally, holding out unattainable standards of beauty and thinness. One parent reported that after discussing the night with her daughters and showing them a video shared on the night, her daughters were in shock that images of models were not real. The effect was profound.
The floor was then opened up to questions from the audience, covering topics such as how to promote healthy eating and whether to interfere in children’s clothing choices if unflattering to their body shape. The speakers highlighted the important of educating children about their changing bodies and the need to eat healthily and be active. Building self-worth in other areas of a child’s life has a buffering affect when body image concerns arise, whereas aligning self-worth with external looks is a recipe for disaster.
If you are interested in enrolling your daughter in JewishCare’s upcoming Project Shine, or you have an area of concern in relation to your child, please contact the Youth Services Team at JewishCare on 9302 8037.