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Ultra-thin models and body Image…

Your daughter wants to be thin.

A

THE WEIGHT OF DIETING

I think she could lose a few pounds. Maybe she could go on the diet I'm on.

You are on a diet yourself. Should you suggest that your daughter follow this diet? She might lose some weight. But is it really a good idea? As your daughter enters puberty, her body will begin changing and it may be dangerous to encourage her to eat less. Rather than opting for a diet, you can teach her healthy eating habits and encourage her to lead an active lifestyle which will help her achieve better health and a better body image.This approach to weight will place it in the domain of health rather than appearance. “I see that you're concerned about your weight. I think you're fine as you are, but if it's really worrying you, we can look at the foods we eat and make better choices for our

health.We can get some books on the subject or ask the advice of a nutritionist. What would you think of exer- cising a little more, you could take a dance class or karate? I'm also going sign up for something that will get me moving, we could encourage each other.”

Body image begins to develop in infancy, and as a child reaches puberty it takes on increasing importance. The constant talk about weight and dieting can promote unhealthy eating habits among girls and young women. Forbidding or limiting consumption of certain foods as a reward or punishment, or to correspond to a particular body shape, can lead some girls to eating dis-

8 YWCA

orders such as bulimia and anorexia. Body image can become an overwhelming priority, even an obsession. Your daughter can begin to distort her own body image when she compares herself to the advertising indus- try's presentation of ultra-thin models who give the illu- sion that their silhouette is the norm. She doesn't know about the extremely strict diets these models must fol- low to remain rail thin. She's unaware that their photos are manipulated by computer programs to correct “imperfections” and present the “perfect body”. Bombarded by these images, it is not surprising that younger and younger girls compare themselves to this standard of beauty. Many women put themselves on popular diet regimes that are often expensive and sometimes dangerous, in the pursuit of a certain image rather than to achieve a healthier lifestyle or a sense of well-being.

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