Wednesday 13 November 2019

Body image ruined by 'perfect' role models

IT didn't take long before I heard the old cliche, as a new mother pushing my little bundle of pink in a buggy down the street.

"Ah, you know what they say," someone told me, with a comfortable laugh at the little piece of folk wisdom that was coming. "Boys wreck your house, girls wreck your head."

Through gritted teeth I laughed dutifully and it is a little bit funny -- because let's face it, it is a little bit true.

Even when they're small, girls are full of inner turmoil and conflict, and, aware of this, we nurse them along in childhood, bolstering their self-esteem.

And suddenly the "tweenage" and teenage years strike, and our precious bundles -- who no longer wear pink because it's hideously uncool -- start looking around them at role models in the outside world.

And they see the "perfect" people -- the air-brushed ones. Pouting, cool models who look like they exist on orange juice and photosynthesis.

A new survey by the Comhairle na nOg finds positive body image "rapidly declines" throughout the teenage years, with negative body image "considerably more prevalent" among girls than boys.

It's a sad day when our own lovely daughters start to not like what they see in the mirror because they feel they can't 'keep up' with the Kardashians.

And coming fast behind them are the boys.

While the survey found boys were far more confident about their body image than girls, it also discovered that some boys were turning to excessive exercise and use of body-building supplements to create the body beautiful image that they believe is expected of them.

The survey finds 15-year-old girls are "least satisfied" with their body image in Ireland.

The most significant negative impact was found to be comparing oneself with others, followed by bullying, weight, media and celebrities.

It found that 66pc of girls were most negatively influenced by comparing themselves with others, while 41pc of boys were most negatively influenced by bullying.

Yes, parents' heads are being wrecked -- but not in the way the author of that little piece of folk wisdom might have expected.

Irish Independent

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