Defining Beautiful: Developing a Healthy Body Image
A healthy body image is critical for self-esteem and development.
In today’s digital era, social media has become a key source of daily news and information. Related to that, today’s teens, especially teenage girls, often rely on social media, specifically Instagram and YouTube beauty influencers, to keep up with the trends. There have been numerous initiatives underway through the years by various advocacy groups to try and curb social media’s influence on perpetuating unrealistic perceptions and expectations around body image. Most, if not all, of these attempts haven’t resulted in a substantial change.
The truth is the way many teenage girls define beauty is based on an altered sense of reality. As parents and dental providers, our goal is to help change how we define beauty by teaching young adults of any gender or preference to develop a healthy body image.
The concept of a negative body image continues to grow and seems to be starting at a younger age than ever before. When parents, educators, and medical professionals identify this challenge too late, it can result in low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression in these children. As they grow into young adults, the problem can become even harder to correct.
But where do these perceptions of an unrealistic body image come from? Sadly, though it isn’t necessarily the goal of social media influencers, celebrities, and others from the otherwise rich and famous group, some of the very actions they undertake contribute to negative body images in our young.
Celebrities and Their Teeth
There is a strong correlation between a happy and confident smile and one’s self-confidence. A high level of self-confidence can provide freedom from self-doubt and negativity. Those with a great smile are often willing to take on more risks and are comfortable outside of their otherwise four-walled comfort zone.
Whether it be for the latest film or show they are starring in or for personal reasons, celebrities are frequently tasked with maintaining a marketable and beautiful image. Aside from plastic surgery, dental corrections and cosmetic surgery are often at the top of the list of strategies to improve their outward appearance.
Sadly, these very actions that are taken by these public figures can create unrealistic expectations for those who look up to them. Many celebrities have veneers or have had other dental work done to correct their smile and create a better self-image. Young stars with veneers include Emma Roberts, Emma Watson, Miley Cyrus, and Hilary Duff. Tom Cruise, Zac Efron, Nicolas Cage, George Clooney, Ben Affleck, and rapper 50 Cent have also embraced veneers to create beautiful celebrity smiles. The list is endless. Pre-teens see these perfect smiles and may wonder why they don’t have naturally flawless teeth, not realizing that their favorite celebrity doesn’t either.
Parents should talk to their children about healthy body image.
One of the best things parents can do to help counter the risk of budding self-confidence issues is to talk to their kids about the importance of healthy body image. Helping kids build positive self-esteem is a fundamental role we have as parents, and there isn’t an age where that conversation is inappropriate.
We define one’s body image as the way one feels about their body. Youngsters with a healthy body image feel good about their bodies and are generally happy with their looks. Body image is part of your child’s entire self-image and also encompasses how their body moves, how it grows, and what it can do.
Helping your child develop a healthy body image starts when they are young. For toddlers, this includes cuddling your child and giving plenty of smiles and praises. It also includes allowing your toddler to discover how to move their body and use the new skills they are developing. And of course, helping your toddler create a healthy body image includes teaching them how to properly care for their teeth.
Prepubescent children, usually from age seven to 12, often compare themselves to other children. These kids want to feel good about how they look and often think about how they measure up to the other kids in their class. For these children, parents can help them develop a healthy body image by doing the following:
- Encourage open dialogue about the changes their body is experiencing
- Teaching children about their body
- Teaching proper hygiene, self-care, and oral care
- Teaching children how to give and receive compliments about how they or others look
- Encourage children to show you their newly developing skills
- Demonstrating pride in the skills your child is developing and encouraging them to continue
- Taking the time to be active with your child
- Teaching your child the importance of physical activity and exercise
- Teaching your child about proper nutrition
How Cosmetic Dentistry Can Help With Healthy Body Image
Despite the need to teach children how to develop a healthy body image, this isn’t to say that there aren’t situations where some corrective measures, such as pediatric orthodontia, aren’t needed. Cosmetic dentistry for kids is all about improving a patient’s smile. Standard pediatric cosmetic dentistry procedures include:
- Tooth-colored fillings
- Tooth-colored crowns
- Teeth whitening
- Dental bonding
It’s no surprise that seeing a bright smile creates a mental and biological response. Children who don’t smile often frequently experience low self-esteem, reduced confidence, increased childhood depression, and feelings of loneliness.
Cosmetic dentistry for kids can help reduce these concerns and restore a sense of positive self-confidence. If your child has chipped teeth, gaps, wide spaces between their teeth, or malocclusions, they may be a perfect candidate for cosmetic dentistry treatment.
Pediatric Dental Specialists can help with healthy body image.
If your child could benefit from cosmetic dentistry and a boost to their body image, Dr. Reimer and the Pediatric Dental Specialists team are here to help. Give us a call at (402) 397-3377 to talk to us about fillings, crowns, teeth whitening, dental bonding, or veneers. You can also request an appointment directly on the Pediatric Dental Specialists website.