MOST girls become body conscious from the age of nine or 10. They may encounter teasing at school about their body, height, face and other features. Even if they don’t, they may develop body image issues that stay with them deep into their adult years.
“The transition to teenage years can be quite tumultuous for some and pleasant for others. It is a period in life where they may become susceptible to criticism, negative remarks, and teasing,” explains counselling psychologist Ivy Tan.
According to her, the teenage adolescent girls’ bodies are undergoing many changes during puberty, resulting in the preoccupation with their appearance and body image.
“Their features are starting to change as hormonal acne may begin to cause skin problems for some. As such, constant reminders of inner strengths, qualities, and talents are needed to shape a positive body image. Having a positive body image is linked to a positive self-image and self-evaluation that increases self-confidence.
“More often than not, we have a tendency to focus on the things we don’t like about ourselves, such as parts that are too big, too small, too dark or too fair. What we fail to notice is how we judge each part of our body harshly, not realising what a gift it has been to receive it, and how perfect it is, exactly as it is.
“It is important to instil in children the perception of not letting their looks dominate their self-worth and ownership of their own physical changes. This is an important attribute to reaffirm in adolescent girls for them to feel beautiful overall,” says Tan.
According to her, a poor body image is also associated with low self-worth and loss of self and personal identity. This may cause them to withdraw socially, which can limit the capacity for the adolescent girls to thrive and succeed.
Having a positive body image grounds adolescent girls to feel good about themselves, explains Tan. She says girls should stop believing that their bodies need to conform to prevailing standards of thinness and beauty. She emphasises the need to differentiate between what is normal and what is not.
With this in mind, Tan is organising a body image workshop along with paediatrician Dr Yong Junina and Thots n Tots founder-editor Brigitte Rozario. The Gorgeous Girl workshop, targeted at those aged 10-14, is being held on June 2, 2017.
The half-day workshop will highlight the importance of having a positive body image and being healthy. It will also show girls how the media manipulates images in magazines and videos. Participants will also learn to appreciate their strengths and they will be taught what to do when they feel bad about the way they look.
Rozario believes that most girls and women have body image issues at some point in their life. “I remember girls in school being teased because they were well endowed. My friends and I always wanted to be thinner, taller, prettier … and I think even as adults we all have days when we look into the mirror and wish the image looking back was a bit different. Most of us live with body image issues all our lives.
“The purpose of this workshop is to help young girls who are becoming conscious of their bodies and the physical changes they are going through. I want to tell them that everybody at some point is unhappy with the way they look, but that they are all gorgeous in their own way and it goes beyond just looks. In fact sometimes what we ourselves perceive as flaws are seen as beauty marks by others,” she says.
According to her, the workshop has been designed for girls and it will include group exercises and videos. The girls will leave equipped with information and knowledge on what to do when they feel bad about how they look.
While she recognises the need for a similar workshop for boys, Rozario believes it should be conducted by men, who would know the issues that boys face growing up. Plus, boys might be more comfortable asking questions from men rather than women.
“We need to educate our children, girls and boys, that nobody is ever 100% happy with the way they look and that that is okay. It is more important to be healthy and happy. Being thinner, taller or fairer doesn’t make you healthier. Children need to learn that they have so much more to offer the world and that nobody should be judged based on their looks,” says Rozario.
For more information on the Gorgeous Girl body image workshop, go to https://www.facebook.com/brigitterozario.writerandeditor/ or https://www.brigitterozario.com/workshops.