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Skinny Celebrities: Protect Your Daughter from the Influence of Celebrity Body Images

Turn on any television show, watch any movie or open any magazine, and you’re likely to see at least one photo of a super-skinny celebrity or model. Not just thin, these young women – and sometimes middle-age women – look like flesh on bone, with nary an ounce of fat to be seen. Many appear to be just a few steps away from hospitalization or serious illness, and all look as if a strong gust of wind would send them tumbling away.

Sure, there are women who are naturally skinny. There are women who eat and eat and eat, yet still never gain an ounce. But various articles and television specials suggest that not all these skinny celebrities were born thin. Many of them work at it with diet and exercise. Others resort to more dangerous methods, like severely restricted meals or illegal diet pills.

Unfortunately, these twig-like celebrities are also influencing our children – particularly young girls. Adolescents try to emulate their favorite celebrities, and that includes the celebrity’s appearance. The message is that skinny is beautiful, and being slim is the only way to be attractive.

So what can you do, as a parent, to help ensure your child maintains a healthy body image?

Compliment her. Unconditional love, especially when it comes from a parent, can do a lot to boost her self-esteem. Remind her frequently that she is physically beautiful, no matter what her shape or size.

Pick the right extracurricular activities. Some sports – such as martial arts or softball – focus on muscular strength and athletic ability. Help her choose activities that will encourage her to stay healthy and strong, rather than thin.

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Point out beauty. Whenever you’re out together, point out people who are beautiful – but not necessarily skinny. Let her know that attractiveness comes in all shapes, and that beauty is about more than size.

Focus on health. Don’t talk calories or fat grams at the dinner table. Instead, if you want to improve her eating habits, talk about vitamins, minerals and fiber. Remind her that food is fuel, and it affects a lot more than just our weight.

Show her the truth. There are lots of websites that demonstrate the difference between original photos of models and celebrities, and the final version that’s been computer enhanced. Send her links to these websites so she knows that the pictures in magazines rarely portray reality.

Encourage good role models. Mandy Moore, Jamie Lee Curtis and Queen Latifah are just a few celebrity women who speak out against Hollywood’s pressure to be thin. They embrace their bodies and serve as a reminder that beauty isn’t always super-skinny.

Listen closely to your daughter’s words whenever she talks about her body and her self-image. Promote a lifestyle that focuses on health rather than appearance, and she’s more likely to develop appreciation for her own body, just as she is.