We live in a time and place obsessed with appearance. Today’s social media—where so many young people edit and curate their own images—has created a culture where 77% of adolescents don’t feel comfortable in their own skin (Milton et al., 2021). Our children feel “flawed in comparison” to “perfect looking” images they see on Instagram, TikTok, and other visual social media (Jiotsa et al., 2021). Young people’s body dissatisfaction contributes to serious mental health problems, like eating disorders, depression, isolation, anxiety, risky sexual behavior, substance abuse, and low self-esteem (Stice & Shaw, 2002; McLean et al., 2022; Perkins & Brausch, 2019; Fergus et al., 2019; Bornioli et al., 2019; Paxton et al., 2006).
Our children’s focus on their bodies—how they appear to others, what measurements they need to meet, and what to feed them — has become an overwhelming distraction in their lives. It steals their time and energy because they spend so much of that time and energy focused on how they look. What could they do or how could they grow if they had all that time back? Research shows that children who grow up body confident have better physical and mental health, perform better in and out of school, and are more likely to fulfill their unique potential.