In having spent a significant amount of time with my teenage step-daughter over the last decade, I’m realizing how different our youth is now than when I was a teenager. Teens today are bombarded with pictures of celebrities and models that have “perfect” bodies. What they don’t let on to teens in those magazines is that those “perfect” bodies have been airbrushed to unrealistic proportions. If my step-daughter spent half as much time worrying about her homework as she does worrying about what clothes are cool to wear, how to do her hair and makeup, and how to get boys to like her, she’d be on the A honor roll. Unfortunately, the media emphasizes looks and materialistic things so much nowadays that kids almost don’t have a chance. I know many teen girls who feel horrible about themselves because they aren’t a size zero with big boobs and a perfectly round butt. Now, sometimes as early as age 14, our children are changing their bodies in whatever way they can through excessive makeup, hair dye, and even body piercings and tattoos, all in the name of trying to fit in. Once 18, many girls are already making the decision to get breast implants, and they don’t care how much breast implants cost today, they’ll go into debt to afford it, all because what they see on tv that’s considered “normal” is large, balloon-like, fake breasts.
I think that not enough parents sit down with their daughters and discuss body issues with them. Our girls need to know why those models in magazines look unnaturally perfect, what the consequences are to early tattoos or even plastic surgery, and they need to learn how to love themselves – and their bodies – without overly caked on makeup, fake body parts, and non-removable art. We take the time to discuss other important topics like drug and alcohol use and safe sex, but don’t always realize that having good self confidence and healthy body image can be just as important as any other topic.