1. R. F.

    It is amazing how distorted body image can become. My daughter was a champion level cross country runner, making it to state two consecutive years. She oddly hated her body because she believed she was too thin and not at all pretty. Obviously, the opposite was true as it often is in these cases. She was always trying to cover herself up and found trouble in trying to relax if she felt exposed. The trouble we had with her was the same as one would imagine they would have with a young girl who felt overweight, however. She just would not commit to eating and certainly not eating correctly. Maintaining proper health and nutrition was imperative while running at a competitive level. This is when we should be careful and watch to see if a body image problem is not the result of a larger issue such as anxiety. In this case, it was, anxiety tells you that you are never good enough. We must be careful not to miss body image problems in our daughters who have the seemingly ‘perfect’ body, too. I do agree though that running is a great outlet for our kids. It certainly did remarkable things for her, body and mind, despite all the inner turmoil.

    • I think that one of the things we forget is that People’s bodies are unique, there isn’t really a body that is alike, and too many people don’t remember that, we’re all different in so many ways. While we strive to be fit we should celebrate the idea of uniqueness. I think this acceptance that your body is unique also helps going forward to make decisions that are truly in your best interest and not dictated by one’s anxiety that they are not good enough. I thank you for sharing the story of your daughter and how you helped her cope with the challenges that face an athlete with a distorted body image. She is lucky that she had you as a support system.

  2. Melissa

    Thank you for this. This body image topic is huge right now. With social media including facebook and now the worst one, Instagram, photoshopping is so prevalent now. Also all these public figures, such as Kylie Jenner, now commonly get cosmetic procedures. You can tell me that her hips suddenly grew to look like a couple of “shelves”. That’s called body sculpting. Wake up people. No one looks like that naturally.

    Once again, thank you for this article. We need to educate our children waaaay more now and support them through teaching them to love themselves.

    • Thabo Nkomo

      Hi Melissa,

      Yes, indeed, it’s important that parents and all adults who are in a child’s circle  give them strong coping skills that will help them value and love themselves.

  3. GeorgeS

    I believe that today is very difficult to be pleased with your looks. We are bombarded with superficial images of beautiful people all around us. We see them on TV, Internet, newspapers, ads etc. This can lower our self-esteem, as you pointed out. Those “perfect” images are making millions of women anxious every day. But I believe that seeking professional help could also be helpful. What is your opinion on therapy, and should it be used if my daughter is showing signs that she hates her body?

    • Thabo Nkomo

      Hi George,

      The media indeed plays  a big part in how people “see” themselves. Yes, most of the time people get into trouble when they try to compete with, as you say, superficial images of beautiful people. Interesting enough, studies have shown that boys can also suffer low self-esteem  and that  may lead  to abuse of steroids which can have devastating effect on them in later years. I agree with you that professional help can turn things around and greatly enhance the feeling of self-worth. Yes, I think your instincts are correct in seeking professional help should your daughter show signs that she hates her body. The only stipulation  I would add is that you do careful research to make sure your daughter  is with a professional in good standing. I wish you the best.

  4. Vivian

    I am definitely going to be sharing this post. I have been talking to my friend, Jessica, about this topic. Her daughter is growing way too far into this obsessed world of having a body shape like the common celebrities, not knowing that most of them did not get their shapes naturally.
    We really need to talk to our kids because it is solely our responsibilities. If we don’t do it, no one will do it for us.
    This is a very good post!

    • Hi Vivian,

      As I said in the post, most teens are sophisticated about what they see on a magazine cover. Yes, they may want to look like that super model. However, most instinctively know that the model doesn’t really look like that in real life. There was some “touching up and camera magic “ going on. However, they don’t use the same caution when it comes to social media platforms like FaceBook. By trying to live to the image they see on social media platforms, they may be in danger of developing issues such as stress fractures from running while underweight. This is something that all parents of young female athletes should be on the look out for.

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