As I mentioned in my last post, teens who want to lose weight need to be able to value and respect their bodies as they are, even if they are seeking to lose weight. It’s hard to find reliable resources that promote positive body image and self-respect for teens who are striving to be healthier. In this post, I’ve listed some websites that have some positive messages and good information (although they aren’t perfect.)
I originally was planning on having a huge list of links for you to choose from. However, I could only find 5 sites that I really felt were valuable. These sites are good for both teens and adults, accept that strengthening body image and self-esteem is key for emotional and physical health, and don’t recommend unhealthy weight loss practices.
I also think it’s important for any teen, and especially an overweight teen, to see information about how big a role the media plays in shaping our self-image and perceptions of others. Some of these sites focus on media literacy and understanding that what the media presents to us as the ideal of beauty and weight (and life goals, gender roles, and pretty much everything else) is not based in reality.
These websites have a ton of information, for both you and your teen. Take some time to click around and see what they have to offer!
The Association for Size Diversity and Health follows a “Health at Every Size” model. This basically means that one can be healthy even if medically classified as overweight or obese, as long as they are regularly practicing healthful behaviors. This is a good read for teens who want to focus on health and are tired of hearing that they need to lose weight. It’s also good for parents who fear that their teen cannot be healthy if they don’t lose a significant amount of weight. Its message is controversial in some circles; what do you think?
This is the blog for an organization called About Face, which focuses on trying to counteract the often toxic media messages that girls and young women receive. They focus a lot on body image issues and the unrealistic expectations of thinness and beauty that are displayed in commercials, movies, TV shows, and other media. It can get teens thinking about whether their goals for themselves- for appearance or otherwise- are based on their own values and ideas, or on someone’s marketing scheme. Check out their “Gallery of Offenders” and “Gallery of Winners” that look at advertisements and TV shows and the message they send.
The Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity is an interdisciplinary project between researchers, clinicians, and the community. It is a fantastic resource. The link above is to the page for parents, which has links to articles and videos. They have a page for kids and teens as well. If you don’t feel like exploring the website, I’d encourage all parents to at least read this and all teens to read this (they require Adobe Acrobat reader.)
Weightless is an excellent blog, and I’ve linked to the posts concerning kids and teens. It is slanted towards media literacy and girls, but some of the content can apply to any gender.
Please let me know what websites you find helpful, what you don’t, and what you agree or disagree with. This is valuable information for us to know as we guide our patients and families towards resources!