The box-office hit movie, The Hunger Games, raked in millions of dollars opening weekend. However, the star of the film, Jennifer Lawrence, has been criticized by some viewers as being too heavy for the role. Lawrence, a beautiful, fit actress of a healthy weight has publicly denounced Hollywood’s idealization of skinny, waif-like women and has highlighted the importance of having healthy role models so girls can feel good about themselves.

The Hunger Games is extremely popular with young audiences and the images represented in the movie will likely have a huge impact on young viewers. The casting of Jennifer Lawrence is a step in the right direction! We need more images of healthy-weight females in the media if we are to raise young women with feelings of confidence and self-acceptance.

Did you know:

  • 80% of 13 year olds report having attempted to lose weight
  • More than 50% of 10 year olds report wishing they  were thinner
  • The female image that Hollywood tends to idealize naturally occurs in only 5% of women
  • The typical model weighs 23% less than a woman of average, healthy stature
  • 95% of those suffering from anorexia are between the ages of 12 and 25

5 Tips for developing a healthy body image:

  1. Rethink Beautiful: Challenge the images we are spoonfed by Hollywood! Think about the values that these images reflect and compare them with your own values. Then, expand your definition of beautiful to be in accordance with YOUR values.
  2. Highlight your Strengths: The problem with our preoccupation with physical appearance is that we uphold the external image as the most important quality of a person. But is it really? What are those qual
  3. ities and virtues that we most value in our friends and loved ones? What are the qualities we most value in ourselves?
  4. Practice Self-Acceptance: As parents, we are able to love our children unconditionally, and find them beautiful, just the way they are. Perfectly, imperfect. Yet, we are so often our own harshest-critic! Take some time to look in the mirror with the eyes of a parent, and offer love and acceptance to those areas of your appearance you have repeatedly criticized. (Turn those post-pregnancy stretch marks into stripes of honor and courage, earned in your rite of passage into motherhood, or embrace that extra “rear” padding for the comfort it offers on hard seats!)
  5. Keep Your Words Positive: Words are powerful, and they can hurt or they can heal. They can build up or tear down. When we are talking about ourself (or others, for that matter), practice using kind words. “Ihate my nose” or “I’m so fat” are demoralizing, breed self-rejection, and model poor behavior for those around us, like ourchildren or younger siblings. As parents, it is important that we do not disparage ourselves, or we will raise children who disparage themselves. Look in the mirror, and say outloud, “I love the way I look!” “My body is healthy, able, and strong” “My body is my temple and I will honor it.”
  6. Seek Balance: More important than superficial, aesthetic beauty that may mask all types of concealed uglies, is the beauty that radiates forth when one feels peaceful and balanced in their life. When our eating habits are balanced with our levels of physical activity and play, when our time is balanced between work and family, when our attention is balanced between self and others, we exude a beauty that is the hallmark sign of a life well lived.

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Author & Edited by therapist, counselor Dr. Leslie Hamilton, Ph.D., LMFT