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Help Kids Develop Healthy Body Image and LIES AND WEDDINGS by Kevin Kwan

Cover of the book Lies and Weddings by Kevin Kwan used as a teaching example for helping kids develop positive body image.

Lady Arabella of Greshamsbury had only one goal for her three children: to live a life of nobility. In Arabella's opinion, the key to succeeding at this was for her children to have the exact appearance she felt was most attractive.  


Arabella was blatant in her messaging. She forced one daughter to strip, have her body fat measured, and eat only half an avocado at breakfast for fear she would become a “pork chop.” The other daughter was instructed by Arabella to “stop eating and keep liquids to a minimum” until after she was photographed.


Arabella also body-shamed her son. From when he was young, Arabella judged the sharpness of his chin, the shape of his nose, and the spacing of his eyes. Thankfully, none of the plastic surgeons she consulted agreed to perform cosmetic surgery on the child. After puberty, when she believed him attractive, Arabella controlled what her son wore and treated him like a fashion accessory.


When children are subjected to negative messages about their appearance and unrealistic standards of beauty, the impact can be significant. Across all genders, kids report unhealthy use of weight control behaviors. Eating disorder rates, most prevalent amongst adolescents, are skyrocketing.


Adult caregivers (parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, etc) significantly shape kids’ perception of their bodies. Here are tips adults can use to help kids develop healthy body image:


Point Out Unrealistic Standards and Images: Explain how society has arbitrary and frequently unattainable body ideals and that many media / social media images are manipulated or fake.


Untangle Appearance and Happiness: Discuss how body shape and size don’t equal happiness, health, or success. People of all body types can be happy, healthy, and successful.


Avoid Body Talk: Commenting, including complimenting, conveys that worth is linked to their appearance. Instead, focus on kids’ character and accomplishments.


Lead by Example: Only voice positive thoughts and feelings about your body. Engage in healthy behaviors (eat when hungry, stop when full, move for enjoyment, not to target body changes).  


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