Teenagers have always worried about the way they look. It’s our role as parents and guardians to help them develop a positive body image.
But adults can only influence children so much. They look to their peers and role models for inspiration and guidance, and for teenagers today, that means looking online.
Digital media is a powerful tool for influencing, which is why it’s important to teach children to understand the digital world around them and to develop the ability to think critically about what they see online.
For help in beginning a conversation with your child about body image and advertising, check out our free guide for parents and guardians.
Point them in the right direction for some inspiration with these six body image role models, who champion body positivity and challenge society’s perceptions about beauty.
After being snubbed by fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld for being “a little too fat”, Adele told People magazine: “I’ve never wanted to look like models on the cover of magazines. I represent the majority of women and I’m very proud of that.”
She proves that talent is far more important than how you look, and tries not to take criticism of her body to heart.
“There’s only one of you, so why would you want to look like anyone else? Why would you want to have the same hairstyle as everyone else and have the same opinions as everybody else?”
Refreshingly, she is not afraid to share makeup-free selfies on social media.
CBeebies’ Dr Ranj Singh fronted our #ThisBoyTalks campaign last year, which encouraged young men to discuss issues related to body image.
He has spoken out about the pressure put on men to conform to a specific body type, and revealed that he has previously considered liposuction.
Despite his personal insecurities, Dr Ranj stripped off for our Boys’ Biggest Conversation video, to highlight the photoshopping that occurs in the fashion industry, as well as Loose Women’s Body Stories campaign for male body confidence.
UK blogger Megan Jayne Crabbe was diagnosed with anorexia when she was 14. At 21 she learned to love herself and began posting on Instagram as @bodyposipanda, where she has been “embracing my belly rolls and celebrating my cellulite” for the past three years.
She has also written a book, Body Positive Power: How To Stop Dieting, Make Peace With Your Body And Live – not bad for a 24-year-old.
As you’d expect, her Instagram account is bursting with body positivity.
View this post on Instagram
It should not be a big deal to see bodies like mine in a magazine. Bodies with fat that folds softly and thighs dotted with cellulite. Bodies proudly carrying the parts of themselves our culture tries to teach us are 'flaws'. It shouldn't be a big deal to see those parts of ourselves (parts that were never flaws in the first place) on our screens or in our magazines, but the ONLY time I ever did see them, flicking through those glossy pages when I was growing up, was in a before picture. Ready to disappear and reveal the body underneath that they said was so much better. Who knows how many sparks of body hatred could have been extinguished before they turned into the fires that tried to burn us down, if we'd been given something as simple as this: seeing bodies like ours celebrated as worthy of respect and love and happiness. As they are. And of course bodies like mine aren't enough. Sure, my body doesn't look like the bodies that usually grace magazine pages, but it also has the many privileges of not falling too far from what our culture deems as acceptable. It pushes a few boundaries, but not too many. And while any representation of bodies that don't look like the usual airbrushed ideal is progress, we need a whole lot more. So here's to not stopping until ALL bodies – all sizes, all shapes, all shades, all genders, all ages, all abilities – get to see themselves celebrated as worthy of respect and love and happiness. Because all of us are so fucking worthy of those things. As. We. Are. 💜💙💚🌈🌞 🌸 from the photoshoot I did for @blogosphere_magazine 📖 💐 shot by the incredible @lindablacker 📷 🌺 wearing @curvykate 👙 Hair 💇 Makeup 💄 and location 🌅: @thevintagebeautyparlour
Never one to take himself too seriously, James Corden is one of the most influential men in entertainment. And he made it to the top by being comfortable in his own skin.
He has been using humour to deflect attention from the way he looked ever since he was at school.
“If you’re big at school, you’ve really got two choices,” he told Rolling Stone.
“You’re going to be a target. If you go to school and you’re me, you go, ‘Right, I’m just going to make myself a bigger target. My confidence, it will terrify them.”
At 12, Harnaam Kaur was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, which caused her to grow facial hair.
Despite suffering years of bullying, she has had a full beard since she was 16, and has been challenging beauty norms and gender stereotypes as a body positivity advocate, anti-bullying activist and Instagram superstar.
View this post on Instagram
Being called a Bearded Lady isn’t an insult at all! Bearded Ladies are brave, strong, passionate, resilient, forgiving, compassionate, powerful, beautiful, empowered, courageous, kind, gregarious, sincere, sexy, fucking hot, considerate and real forces of nature! Why wouldn’t I want to be one? I mean just look at our characteristics. I am so super proud to be one! God keep my soul, I am happy with the person that I am, and live with passion for my purpose in life.
Born without a left forearm, British fashion model Kelly Knox never saw herself as disabled. She believes passionately in empowering young disabled people to celebrate who they are and campaigns for equal representation of all body types in the media.
In 2016 Kelly co-founded Diversity Not Disability to promote equal opportunities for models with disabilities.
View this post on Instagram
..Coz it is our #birthright to feel #confident and #comfortable in our own #skin. Do not let #society #define you. You do not need #societies permission to feel #beautiful or #worthy ✨⭐️⚡️ So much #love going out to thee #beautiful #goddess @felicityhayward and all the #selflovebringsbeautygang @self.love.brings.beauty baby!!! #selflovebringsbeauty photographer @nataliejadereading make-up @levijadetaylor at @urbandecay hair @ blowltd video @stringertv music @romefortune
Our online resources offer lots of advice for parents and guardians to help children develop a positive body image. Download them here for free.
Written by Nicole Andrew