Here’s something that will stop you in your tracks as a parent: A significant portion of Australian children as young as four (I repeat: four) are experiencing negative body image issues with research showing that over a third of four-year-old girls are dissatisfied with their bodies*
Research also shows** that body image perceptions form in very early childhood and unhealthy body image or body dissatisfaction can lead to young girls developing low self-esteem, or be at increased risk for disordered eating in the future.
This is why today’s episode is so important. And why educational tools such as books are key in creating a strong foundation for a positive body image in children. ‘Charlie’s Tales: The Sprites and the Heart Flower’ is a new children’s book from the Pretty Foundation, a leading Australian not-for-profit focused on the prevention of negative body image issues in two to six-year-old girls.
Hannah Jarman – a body image expert, PhD candidate and researcher for the Engaging Minds in Body Image and Eating Disorders (EMBodIED) Research team at LaTrobe University in Australia – is one of the women behind the new children’s book and our fantastic guest today.
As you’ll learn, it doesn’t matter if you’re raising girls or boys, today’s conversation is such an important one for all parents. We live in a body obsessed world and as Hannah points out, our children are growing up in a vastly different world to the one we did. We’re image obsessed. We’re selfie obsessed. We edit, tweak, preen and filter so much of our lives. And as we talk about today, multiple studies have found a strong link between heavy social media and an increased risk for depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, and even suicidal thoughts.
Today, we talk about:
- How research has only recently begun to investigate selfies, and little is known about selfie practices in adolescents, or the associations between these practices and well-being and body confidence.
- As parents, we are role models for our children. How can we be positive role models for our children?
- Why focusing on our child as a whole person so important.
- Peer pressure/our peer circle and how that impacts adolescent body image.
- The role of sport in fostering healthy body image.
- How Puberty dramatically influences body image.
- How can educational tools such as children’s books be key in creating a strong foundation for positive body image in children.
- The latest book from the Pretty Foundation, Charlie’s Tales: The Sprites and the Heart Flower.
- Practical steps to take if you suspect your child has an eating disorder.
To find out more about the Pretty Foundation, go to prettyfoundation.org
Purchase Charlie’s Tales: The Sprites and the Heart Flower here
* Damiano, S. R., Gregg, K. J., Spiel, E. C., McLean, S. A., Wertheim, E. H., & Paxton, S. J. (2015). Relationships between body size attitudes and body image of 4-year-old boys and girls, and attitudes of their fathers and mothers. Journal of Eating Disorders, 3, 16. doi:10.1186/s40337-015-0048-0
** Paxton, S.J., Damiano, S.R. (2017). The Development of Body Image and Weight Bias in Childhood. Advances in Child Development and Behavior, 52. pp. 269-298