Teens are the most digitally connected and social media-savvy generation there has ever been, so it’s no surprise that they’re one of the most likely groups to experience body shaming. And while we’re starting to see more awareness around this issue, it’s still important for parents to be aware of how their children might be feeling if they have experienced or witnessed body shaming.
Body shaming is a growing problem – even among teens.
Body shaming among teens is actually on the rise. A recent study found that 45 percent of girls and 30 percent of boys felt pressure from their peers to look a certain way. That’s up from 42 percent of girls and 25 percent of boys in 2020; it’s also more than double what researchers found in 2014. This shows just how much pressure there is to fit into society’s standards for beauty, which can lead to unhealthy habits like eating disorders and self-destructive behavior such as cutting or bingeing on food (which may cause weight gain).
Body shaming can lead to mental health problems.
The effects of body shaming are more widespread than we knew. In fact, according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), 74% of women and 40% of men in the United States experience some form of eating disorder at some point in their life. Body shaming can lead to depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem—a vicious cycle that can develop into eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.
Studies have shown that those who have been bullied due to their weight were two times more likely to develop an eating disorder than those who haven’t experienced bullying because of their weight. In addition to this statistic being alarming enough on its own, a study conducted by UCLA indicated that “bully-victims were almost three times more likely to contemplate suicide than non–victims.”
Teens may not know how to handle being body-shamed.
As a teen, you may not know how to handle being body-shamed. You might feel awkward and embarrassed. You might even feel like your body is out of control. Your feelings are normal, but they can also be painful and confusing.
So what should you do? How can you handle your emotions when someone makes fun of your body?
First of all, remember that it’s not about you. The person who is making mean comments about your weight doesn’t really know anything about how beautiful or perfect your body really is—they’re just speaking from their own insecurities that stem from low self-esteem or an unhealthy lifestyle (like eating disorders). When someone says something hurtful about the way you look, keep in mind that it’s coming from somewhere else besides inside yourself – so don’t take it personally!
If your teen has experienced body shaming, it can help to validate their emotions.
If your teen has experienced body shaming, it can help to validate their emotions. Body shaming is very common and can lead to a variety of negative consequences for teens. Teens are especially vulnerable to body shaming because of the changes going on with their bodies that make them feel insecure about themselves. Teens may not know how to handle being body shamed, or they may not know how to respond when someone is making fun of their appearance or weight in front of other people.
Teens may also have difficulty understanding and coping with their own emotions surrounding this type of situation if they’ve never been through anything similar before! If you notice your child becoming upset after being called out for something like this, try validating those feelings by saying things like: “That sounds really hurtful” or “I’m sorry that happened.”
It’s important for your teen to remember that it’s ok to be upset about body shaming.
It’s important for your teen to remember that it’s ok to be upset about body shaming. It is not ok for anyone to make them feel bad about themselves, and they shouldn’t have to deal with it alone. The best way you can help is by being a good listener. You also need to let them know that it’s entirely normal and understandable for them to feel the way they do, but that there are things you can do together as a family or as an individual that might help make things better in the future.
You don’t want your child to internalize their feelings when dealing with something like this—that could be damaging in the long run! Instead, encourage them not only to talk about these issues out loud but also to write about them in a journal so they can process through everything without feeling like there’s nowhere else for their emotions to go except inside themselves (which isn’t healthy).
Teens need to hear that they shouldn’t use self-deprecating humor when they feel bad about themselves.
The research suggests that teens need to hear that they shouldn’t use self-deprecating humor when they feel bad about themselves, or when making fun of others. They also aren’t likely to benefit from it, either.
The same goes for adults and children, who may be tempted to make light of their own or others’ weight or appearance. There’s no better way to reinforce a negative body image than by making jokes about how ugly you are—and if you’re laughing along with someone who makes such comments, it can do damage too.
Your teen needs to know that body shaming happens no matter what someone looks like.
It’s important that your teen knows that body shaming happens no matter what someone looks like. It doesn’t matter if you’re thin or curvy, tall or short, muscular or not so much—body shaming can happen to anyone.
Body shaming is not a personal attack on the individual being shamed. The person doing the shaming is usually doing it because they feel fat and want others to feel as bad about themselves as they do.
It’s also important for teens to understand that body shaming isn’t just about weight; it can apply to any part of your appearance—your face, arms and legs, chest, stomach area (or lack thereof), butt, and thighs (or lack thereof).
Talk with your teen about how social media might be affecting the way they think about their bodies.
You may have heard about the negative effects of social media on self-esteem, body image, and mental health. But what might be less well-known is how it’s also contributing to body-shaming and other forms of body-related bullying.
If you haven’t already talked with your teen about these issues, now is an excellent time to do so. Explain how social media can affect the way they think about their bodies—and how this, in turn, affects their self-esteem, which affects everything else in their lives.
It’s important that your teen understand the importance of positive body image—that there are many different types of bodies out there and each one has its own unique beauty; that physical appearance should never be an indication of worthiness or value as a person; that being comfortable with themselves will help them feel better about who they are as individuals (and more confident).
You should teach your kids how to respond when they witness or experience body-shaming online.
If you’re a parent, you know that the internet is not always a friendly place. But what if your child sees or hears your friend talk about the latest diet fad? Or worse, what if they see someone else being body-shamed for their size? This can be profoundly painful and upsetting to children who are just learning how to navigate their bodies in the world.
There are many ways to respond when this happens: You might want to talk with them about how others’ opinions don’t reflect reality, or you might want to let them know it’s okay for other people not to agree with them (and even better if those opinions are expressed respectfully). Ultimately, though, teaching your kids how they should respond when they witness or experience body shaming online will help them develop skills that will serve them well throughout their lives—and teach them empathy toward others in the process.
Check-in with your teen if you suspect they’re being body shamed
To further reduce the chances of your teen experiencing body shaming, you should take steps to ensure that they are not being shamed. This can be done by checking in with and offering support to your teen when you suspect they may be experiencing it. For example, if you find out that someone has been making comments about your teen’s weight or appearance, ask them about it. You could say something like: “Hey buddy! What was going on at school today? I heard some girls talking about what a fat pig you were in gym class! Is everything ok? Do you need me to help talk to your teacher?” If possible, try not to let any judgments come into play here (e.g., “What do those girls know anyway?! They’re just jealous!”). Instead, focus on how the situation made YOU feel or react so that they know they can trust their parents with this sensitive topic as well as other topics related to health and well-being throughout their lives – including puberty changes like acne or breast growth/aging issues later down the road; substance abuse problems; eating disorders; etc.)
Create social media awareness on how to stop body shaming
You can create awareness on how to stop body shaming by making informative videos about everyday experiences. For example, you could use a hashtag like #StopBodyShaming or #TeachMeHowToStopBodyShaming. Then, ask people to share their personal stories of being body shamed and how they overcame them.
You can also create an Instagram account dedicated to sharing these stories with the hashtag mentioned above (and others too).
Body shaming is an important issue and one that deserves more attention. We need to educate everyone, especially teens, on how damaging it can be to a person’s mental health. If your teen has experienced body shaming or if you suspect they may be being shamed online by others, we strongly recommend that you reach out for help right away.