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Summer Bathing Suits and the Pressure to Be Thin

School is out. Summer is in full swing and that means bathing suit season—the time of year when tweens and teens feel the most pressure to be thin. Being a female, I can relate to the dreaded thought of putting on my bathing suit and displaying all my insecurities to the world. And I think it is even harder for teenage girls.

Negative Body Image And Summer

In my role as a personal coach, I see the struggles with body image. Insecurities grow bigger as bikinis grow skimpier and models grow skinnier. In today’s media driven society, especially with the unattainable beauty ideals, these insecurities may even hold a girl back from going to the beach or the pool.

Ever take a teen girl who is insecure bathing suit shopping? I still remember my bathing suit trips with my mom. I left the store devastated, crying and feeling more insecure than ever. In fact, studies prove that swimsuit shopping negatively impacts women and teens’ self-esteem.

Unfortunately, many girls are overly focused on losing weight. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), about 35-37 percent of adolescent girls engage in crash dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting or taking diet pills or laxatives. In my coaching work with teen girls, they regularly report how insecure or fat they feel.

Early diagnosis of eating disorders with tweens and teens is imperative. Parents must understand the warning signs. I know firsthand some of the common warning signs that a teen could potentially have an eating disorder – I struggled for 10 years with an eating disorder.

Here is my list of warning signs

Warning Signs Of Eating Disorders

  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Getting on a scale multiple times a day
  • Excessive drinking of fluids and denial of hunger
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and activities
  • Avoidance of situations involving food or mealtimes
  • Excessive exercise
  • Constantly discussing weight and how fat
  • Dramatic weight loss and/or a change in dress (such as clothes to flaunt weight loss or oversize clothing to cover the body)
  • Lying about the amount being eaten or hiding eating habits
  • Believe self-worth is based on weight or body size
  • Obsession with calories, fat grams and nutrition

Early detection is important because an eating disorder can quickly spiral out of control. When I was going through the worst of my eating disorder, I went from 132 pounds to 82 pounds in just a few months.

How can you broach the subject? Initiate a conversation by sharing your concerns about your child’s health. Avoid making accusations, be supportive and seek professional help.

Lastly, especially now during the summer, mothers can support a healthy body image. Don’t put down your own body in front of your child. Be a great role model and show your teenage daughters that your insecurities don’t stop you from enjoying the day or participating in life.  As I tell the girls I work with, real beauty is about loving yourself.

Marthe Teixiera

Marthe Teixiera is a wellness coach, who specializes in working with teenage girls. Find out more at Stixs-n-Stones.com.