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Parents - Ask Me Anything about your teens' body image

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Butterfly: Let's Talk

This is the Butterfly Podcast from the Butterfly Foundation, your national voice for people living with body image issues and eating disorders.
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A staggering ninety-five percent of young Australians aged between 12 and 18 are experiencing some level of body image concern, and more than half are unhappy with how their body looks. That’s according to Butterfly’s second Body Kind Youth Survey.

With body dissatisfaction playing a significant role in the development of eating disorders, it’s not surprising that this data makes sense in relation to Butterfly’s latest Paying the Price Report, which shows 27% of individuals with an eating disorder are aged 19 or younger.

It's quite clear there’s a problem, but what can we do? How can parents and caregivers reduce risk and support the individual young people they love?

In this episode of Let’s Talk, we invited our audience to submit their direct questions. Then we asked Helen Bird, Butterfly’s Education Manager and Lead on the Survey, to respond.

While acknowledging that it’s not always easy talking to teens, Helen delivered.

“We live in a society where body size matters,” she says. “And people are picking up very strong messages from a young age. It’s in the media, in books, in the toys that they're playing with.”

The trick is to focus on health-promoting behaviours, that is, ensuring that our teens are eating nutritious food, they’re moving regularly, they're getting enough sleep, they're practising self-care strategies, and that they have positive coping mechanisms. These are the things that contribute to our teens’ health and happiness; it's not necessarily about their shape and weight.

And if you are noticing signs of a problem? “Lean in with compassion and curiosity,” says Helen. “Talk about the things that you've noticed, but in terms of your young person’s feelings and moods. Again, try not to focus on weight or eating behaviours because that’s quite likely to be met with resistance.”

Tune in for more of Helen’s wise and empowering tips, even if you might have body image issues yourself. Working to heal your own relationship with your body is not only good for you but also for the people around you, including your teens.

Find out more about Butterfly's Body Kind Youth Survey Findings

Find out more about Butterfly's Body Kind Families

Find out more Butterfly's Education and Prevention Services

Find out more about our Paying the Price Report

Contact our Helpline

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Butterfly: Let's Talk

This is the Butterfly: Let's Talk Podcast from the Butterfly Foundation, your national voice for peo 
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