It’s May and that means it’s almost swim-team season! It’s my favorite time of the year. To me, summer and the pool are just magical. But with the swim season starting, I notice the conversation around swimsuits, bodies, and body image coming up in my sessions more and more too. It’s bringing up a lot for folks, especially those kids whose bodies have gone through big changes from last year. So, it’s normal to notice your kids having a harder time when thinking of the upcoming swim season.
With this being on the top of many people’s minds, I’m re-releasing an old episode on the toxic culture we live in around body image. In this episode, Caroline Megargel and I talk with Sarah Lewis from The Lewis Practice about the power we ourselves and our kids have when we start noticing the toxic messages we get around food and bodies.
(Social) Media & body image
The media showing us how we are supposed to look, act, and feel, has a massive negative impact on our body image and also that of our kids. Images of trained bodies and photoshopped skin and hair are everywhere around us and our teens see it, day in, day out. Often with a hidden message that got ingrained into our thoughts:
When I lose weight, I’ll be happier.
When I have a six-pack, I’ll find a better partner.
When I lose a few inches, people will take me more seriously.
That’s the image we get from social media and other media outlets. And with the algorithms doing what they do, it’s easy to get sucked into a rabbit hole of seeing more and more of it.
“So suddenly what you’re seeing on Social Media is what you’re struggling with.
And you’re seeing it more and more and more,
the more that you click on it.”
– Caroline Megargel
How the language we use affects our body image (and that of our kids)
But this toxic culture is not just limited to the images we see on covers or on Social Media. It has found its way into the way we talk about our own bodies and that of others. It’s about what kids say to each other and what we say to ourselves in our homes and in the media. When this is what our kids see everywhere around them, they’ll start to think that it’s real (or even normal) and that this is what they’re supposed to be doing.
It’s incredibly hard to have a healthy relationship with food and bodies
in the culture we live in today.
If you want to be more empowered about your own food and body image journey and if you want to give your sons and daughters the opportunity to empower themselves as they walk around this world, I’m sure you’re going to enjoy this episode! [And if you want to dive deeper into the topic, scroll back to our episodes from January 2022. This is just the first episode of a 6-episode series on disordered eating!] You can find our podcast Active and Connected Families wherever you listen to your podcasts, or easily click the links below to listen:
In this episode on the toxic culture around body image, we cover:
- How we see the culture negatively impacting adults and teens;
- The image (social) media paints about how we should look, act, and feel;
- The role of Social Media’s algorithm in the images we see;
- How the way we talk about our bodies impacts our kids’ body image;
- What we as parents can do and say about this;
- And more!
More about Active & Connected Family Therapy
Active & Connected Family Therapy is a mental health practice serving individuals, families, and our community. Our practice is designed to help people at all stages and from all walks of life by offering therapists and physicians with diverse backgrounds and specialties via face-to-face, walk-and-talk, and telemedicine appointments. Throughout, we are committed to developing strengths-based, authentic, and long-lasting relationships with you and your children. We hope to provide you with the support and insight you need to help your family navigate life’s hard times and joys.
Are you or your child struggling with mental health? We have a team of psychologists and psychiatrists who can help you out. You can learn more about our practice or contact us here.
More about Caroline Megargel, MSW, LCSW
Caroline is an individual and family therapist at Active & Connected Family Therapy who specializes in working with children, teens, and young adults struggling with their mental health, life transitions, parental divorce, and more. She has particular expertise in working with teens struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma, and disordered eating.
After growing up in Charlottesville, she attended Vanderbilt University and pursued an undergraduate degree in Psychology. She later attended Boston College and earned her Masters of Social Work. Caroline returned to Charlottesville in 2018, where she began practicing as an outpatient therapist. She became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in June 2020. Outside the office, she enjoys walking her dog, spending time with friends, and listening to podcasts.
You can learn more about Caroline here.
More about Sarah Lewis, MSW, LCSW
Within her own practice, The Lewis Practice, Sarah works with Children, Adolescents, Families, Elite Athletes (competing on travel teams, high school, college, and gearing up or in the college recruiting pipeline), as well as people in the lgbtq community. She takes a balanced approach combining support, warmth, empathy, and humor (when appropriate).
She earned her MSW in Clinical Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University and has a BA in Psychology from Randolph Macon Woman’s College where she was a two-sport athlete in basketball and tennis. As an undergraduate, she spent a year abroad and played international basketball. She has worked in a variety of settings including schools, crisis services, as well as inpatient and outpatient mental health. During her more than 25 years in private practice, she has also taught at James Madison University and served as an expert witness for the state and federal court system.
You can learn more about Sarah here.
Resources and links mentioned in this episode
- We’d love to hear your feedback on our podcast. Why not leave us a review on Apple Podcasts?
- Connect with us on Facebook or Instagram.
- This is the first episode of a six-episode-long series on disordered eating. Interested in the other episodes? You can find #2 ‘Be a Good Role Model’ here or scroll back to January 2022 in your favorite podcast listening apps to find all of them!
Disclaimer: Please remember we are real live therapists, however this is a podcast and is not considered a therapy session. Not only because there is no co-pay but also because we can’t speak to your individual experiences. We are here to help you keep raising healthy kids. And remember, if you are an imperfect parent, we are right there with you. If you or someone you love is in immediate danger, please call your local crisis hotline or go to your nearest emergency room.