I'm a 15 year old female and my whole life I've been skinny. Recently I've been trying to educate myself about social issues and in doing so I've come across a lot of body positivity-type stuff and most of what I see and hear about is body positivity for fat girls. And I'm totally down with that, like I think that everyone's bodies are beautiful and unique....
If you're caring for a young person, then the question of when and how to have "the talk" with them has likely crossed your mind. It's generally understood to be one of the more dreaded moments of raising a young person, because it's awkward for everyone involved and seems like an awful lot to have to do all at once.
But it doesn't have to be an awkward, embarrassing, weird metaphors about birds and bees filled discussion. And it not only doesn't have to be all at once, it shouldn't be.
For two years, I worked in a bookstore that was aimed primarily at children and teenagers. It was a job I quite enjoyed, but I quickly discovered that when you work near books, people always want to tell you their opinions on said books. That's fine most of the time. But I noticed a pattern when parents or adults would refer to The Hunger Games series. They would express dismay over a child wanting to read the book, wondering what they saw in it, and either implicitly or explicitly stating that they thought the book was not good for youth to be reading.
What struck me about these conversations was that ninety-nine percent of the time, the adult in question had not even read the book they were criticizing. They dismissed it, either as inappropriate trash or as mindless fiction without ever actually seeing what it had to say.
Our societies are chock full of norms and ideals of beauty, and we all run up against them eventually. These norms and expectations often have a hand in shaping how we feel about our own bodies. When you're a teen and trying to sort out how to feel comfortable in your changing body, these messages can be very potent indeed.
So, what can you do - and what shouldn't you do - to help teens feel at home in their own skin?