Body image …
From television to books and now social media and filters, it’s easy to get a scewed sense of what our bodies should look like, leading girls of all ages struggling with negative body image.

“Unfortunately, it’s something I still see really frequently in my practice,” said Dr. Nicole Cross Hillman, psychologist, Sanford Health.

Dr. Nicole Cross Hillman is a psychologist who works with many kids.

She says research has shown that girls tend to develop body dissatisfaction if they perceive their mother to have that body dissatisfaction.

If there is a lot of diet talk in the home, or negative body talk, girls tend to have more negative feelings about their own bodies, but we can counteract the negative messages, starting with ourselves.

“I think we can as caregivers be really aware of our own body talk and our own diet and shift that conversation to a focus on strength and a focus on health versus a size, a shape appearance based things,” explained Dr. Cross Hillman.

Dr. Cross Hillman says it also helps to minimize appearance based compliments and focus on process praise such as their work, effort, or actions.

“Your strong legs, help you run so fast,” Dr. Cross Hillman, expressed, “and then modeling this for our kids too. ‘I am so grateful for my super strong arms because I can lift you so high.'”

But we are surrounded by images of “idealized” body types.

On social media alone, our kids see what’s really an illusion in the form of a filter, giving them a false sense of how they should look.

Dr. Cross Hillman advises parents to sit down and go through social media with their kids, experiment with the filters and educate them about the difference between reality and illusion.

Dr. Cross Hillman explained, “Thinking critically about, ‘okay, there was a filter use there.’ You know, most people don’t post real life on social media, they kind of post that highlight reel, not the real things going on.”

Another tip for kids and adults alike, be kind to yourself.

“So challenging them to try and talk to themselves the way they would talk to a friend. We’re really hard on ourselves, and we notice all of those things. But you wouldn’t say that to a friend,” said Dr. Cross Hillman.

And as adults, Dr. Cross Hillman says it’s crucial to model that positive self-image talk, and for our kids to hear us focusing on our own strengths.