How to Foster Body Positivity in Your Daughter

body positivity art

With rapidly evolving trends and the unescapable presence of social media, it does not come as a surprise as to how the view and perspective of teenagers is easily shaped by what they see online. One day it’s about muted floral tops and the next, biker shorts are all the rave. From what type of teen bra to wear and how to do one’s makeup to which smartphone filters to use and which hip new place to go to, it can be tiring to have to keep up with all of this at a point when you are still trying to figure out how to navigate puberty. Your teenage daughter could very much benefit from your support and guidance to find her own way and style through the overwhelming amount of pressure brought about by modern society.

Here’s a list of 7 tips you can try to foster body positivity and make her feel better in her own skin.

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Embrace Comfort as Key

All the girls on Instagram might be wearing those skimpy shorts and cropped tops, but that does not mean she has to. The teenage years are a time when the feeling of needing to conform is at an all-time high. It’s the classic “all my friends are doing it, so that means I should do it, too.” Peer pressure can be a tricky subject to overcome, so she will need your input and maybe even validation that it is ok to go against the norm. It is essential to instill in her that whatever she feels good wearing is worth putting on. When she is not self-conscious of what she has on, then she can focus more on the things that really matter – school, family, friends, extracurricular activities, the list goes on.

Classic pieces where she can easily move around without worrying about what others think or have to say are ideal. From A-line dresses that stand the test of style and time to even just a comfy pair of leggings that she can wear for both working out or meeting up with friends. If she can move around without having to second guess herself, then she should be fine in whatever she has on.

Educate Her on Accepting Her Body Type 

Everyone comes in different shapes and sizes, and that’s a beautiful thing. Life would be dull if we all were just versions of each other. Diversity in size, shape, height, and color is what makes each of us unique. However, what your daughter sees in magazines or on social media is more often than not photoshopped or splashed with layers of filters. With summer finally here, it is crucial for her to understand that everybody is a beach body, no matter how it looks.

A simple chat may not be enough to convince her, so help her pick out pieces that will enhance and complement her shape. When it comes to fashion, choosing items that accentuate physical features should be used as an advantage. She might ask herself, “why buy leggings when I probably wouldn’t look good in them?” But help her choose the right fit, cut, and fabric, and you’re likely to find a pair that will look like they were made just for her.

Focus on What Is Possible Instead of What Is Out of Reach

Sometimes, even just figuring out where to begin is the major hurdle, and living in a time characterized by an information overload is not helpful. Set time to go through what the things are that make her feel uncomfortable or that she is conscious of, and address those one by one. A voice of reason can be extremely reassuring. Even just identifying and voicing out concerns is a major breakthrough. Once she is able to pinpoint what it is exactly that’s been on her mind, it then becomes less intimidating to overcome and resolve.

Aside from that, also go through the things that she does like about her body. From this exercise, she may realize that the good outweighs the bad, and that moment can be pivotal in allowing her to see herself in a new light.

Encourage a Varied and Active Lifestyle

Body positivity is not just limited to what she wears and how she sees herself. It also encompasses her desire to take care of her body and keep it healthy. Allowing her to discover what extracurricular activities she enjoys also makes an impact on how she sees herself. Whether it is a competitive sport like football, a graceful pursuit like modern dance, or a musical endeavor like learning the guitar, she should be able to recognize that movement is a way for her to care for her own body. Simply by doing something she loves,; she will be able to note a significant difference in her mood and disposition.

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Let Her Know That She Has Agency

This is a time of her life when she needs to be free to explore and decide what she wants for herself. Of course, as her parent, you are there to guide her along the way. However, don’t be overbearing or stubborn with what she should do exactly. She should feel that, regardless of what decision she makes—assuming it does not put her health and well-being at risk—you will be there to walk beside her and pick her up if she falls.

Remember that, after all, fashion is a form of self-expression, so let her voice shine through. The last thing you want is to be butting heads with her over something inconsequential and letting that put a riff in your relationship. Win her trust by making sure she knows that you are there for her 100%.

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Inspire Her to Have a Balanced Diet

Nutrition and diet are two essential components for a healthy body and mind. While it may be okay to indulge in a cheat day every once in a while, it is still advisable to opt for clean and fresh eats on a regular basis. As a teenager, she is old enough to understand this and even capable of helping out with family meal planning and preparation. This way, you can involve her in the process instead of just dictating what she should and should not eat based on what is stocked in the fridge. By doing this, you are able to help her foster a healthy relationship with food and see for herself just how tasty clean eating can be.

Devise Measures to Help Her Cope with Stress

Regardless of how old you are, stress is present in all ages and environments. For her, it may be school, her friend group, her siblings, or maybe even that boy in her class who she’s had a crush on. Think back to when you were a teenager and every hiccup seemed like it would be the end of the world. Now that you’ve gone through life and learned from those experiences, you can help her maneuver her way through her own struggles. Acknowledge that whatever she is feeling is valid, and be proactive while at the same time giving her space to help her sort out her thoughts and feelings. 

Body positivity is more than just fashion and food choices. It is about cultivating a sound mindset that allows you to see things for how they are and focus on bringing out the good instead of dwelling on the bad. With your guidance, your teenage daughter will be on her way toward that path of self-exploration and identity formation with you cheering her on from the sidelines.

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Feature image “Body Positive (front)” by Kit Stubbs is licensed under CC BY 2.0