Summer is all around us.  It’s not only the warmer weather – it’s also in the magazine racks at the store. More and more feature articles about getting a swimsuit ready body.  Unfortunately, those articles might be harmful to a young girl’s body image.

To make sure these articles don’t negatively affect your daughter’s body image, consider the following tips:

  1. Browse the magazines with your daughter.  Help her understand that magazines very frequently touch up pictures of models and the pictures they see are probably enhanced. It is important for your daughter to understand what is real and what is not. You can even do a quick Google search to show images before and after being Photoshopped.
  2. Point out fallacies in those magazine articles claiming they have rapid weight loss strategies.  Healthy weight loss does not happen quickly.  A good rule of thumb for weight loss is one pound per week. Fad diets almost always result in weight gain after the diet is over.
  3. Seek out celebrities that have normal bodies and point out differences between them and the emaciated bodies they might see on magazine covers.  Note that healthy does not necessarily mean skinny.  In a society where many little girls grow up playing with Barbie dolls that have incredibly unrealistic bodies, it is vital to teach them that all female bodies are not created equally.
  4. Focus on eating to be healthy, not on depriving yourself of eating to lose weight.  Your daughter should understand that food fuels her body and that putting good “fuel” in her tummy will make her feel and function her best.
  5. Watch your comments about your own body. Most women are dissatisfied with their bodies in some way.   Don’t make critical remarks in front of your daughter.  You are a strong role model to her.  If you model a good body image, your daughter will be more likely to have a healthy view of her own body.
  6. Compliment your daughter on things besides her physical appearance.  Being a woman is more than being beautiful on the outside.  Make sure your daughter understands that so compliment her on her intelligence, positive inner qualities, and other intrinsic values.

Most importantly, love and support your daughter.  Make sure she can come to you with questions about her insecurities and fears.  Open communication is the key to a strong relationship. Your daughter will have a strong self-esteem if you she receives unconditional acceptance from you.