Today is Love Your Body Day!
A teen’s body is going through so many changes. Some are welcome, some pleasant… and some anything but. It can be hard to love something so unpredictable. And it can be hard to love your body at any age in an image-obsessed culture where no one ever seems to measure up to the “thinspiration” pins on Pinterest, overly airbrushed magazines, and extreme transformations on reality TV.
Over breakfast this morning, I asked my preschool aged daughter what she loved about her body. “Because my body is awesome!” she replied. I thought about what I love about mine, and remembered how it grew and nurtured my kids, is strong enough to run and play with them now, and wakes up healthy and pain free most days. Then I thought about what comes between a childhood exuberance and joy in getting to the top of the slide and racing your friend around the park and an adult’s appreciation of movement, strength, and independence. For many of us, it wasn’t great.
Today is Love Your Body Day! Do you? Are we making sure our teens do?
If we were lucky, we had parents who told us how wonderful we were, how beautiful, how strong, how fast or agile or graceful. But they were our parents. They had to say that. As adults with the potential to positively influence the teens in our libraries, we can be conscious of the pressure teens face to conform to unrealistic standards of body shape.
We can highlight fiction that feature all different shapes of people, adorn our walls with posters that avoid Photoshopped images, and keep material accessible that shows what normal really looks like.
TLT founder Karen at 19 years of age and 105 pounds
Hungry, cranky and miserable
We can institute a zero tolerance policy for negative body comments about oneself or others at programs just like we wouldn’t allow abusive language based on race, sexuality, or any other aspect of our selves or lives. This includes you. Don’t let them overhear idle chat at the desk about how ill fitting your sweater is, how you are mad at yourself about an indulgence, how you are so lazy about exercising now that fall is here. Be a positive part of the background noise.
Fashion magazines are popular items at many libraries and with lots of teens, but studies show that just a short time spent reading them can decrease body satisfaction significantly. Consider carefully how to balance your magazine collection in a way that it appeals to teens a whole people – not just as places to hang clothes or extreme athletes.
Love Your Body Day, sponsored by NOW
Photo blogged at Laurasana
Give your teens feedback on the things that make everyone attractive. Try saying things like:
|Karen’s fave body image book|
You look so happy today!
It’s really nice to see you here.
Your smile makes me want to smile.
You have such a great laugh.
I love hearing your ideas/opinions/suggestions.
It’s so great so see how good you are to your friends.
I appreciate what you contribute to the library.
Empower your teens to speak out when they see negative or deceiving body image portrayals. Remind them that it was a fourteen year old girl that brought Seventeen to publicly pledge that it will not digitally alter the faces or shapes of its models.
Use your social media to highlight ideas and points of view that counteract the negative body messages all around us.
And be sure to check out the other great resources here on body image too!
One final note – my morning body image chat happened over a bowl of cereal with a box that bore this slogan:
I think I’m going to cover it up with some duct tape. I don’t want “less you” when it comes to my kids, myself, or the teens at the library. I want more! Your body isn’t you, it’s just where you live.
– Post by Heather B
Filed under: Body Image, Teen Issues
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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