Remember those teenage years, or maybe you are in them now? The importance of image: your outfit, hair, makeup, which bag you wear and what shoes are ‘in’. How one small thing could be made fun of, teased about or even you would be bullied for.
Many years ago or even a few years ago social media and technology were not as advanced as they are now. If your skirt was tucked into your knickers, the label fell off your ‘designer’ jacket or your mascara smudged, you would be temporarily mortified, teased by a few and learnt your lesson for tomorrow.
Now photos are quickly taken on smart phones, the flaws highlighted with a big circle, and a scathing comment added.
Then it is shared with EVERYONE!
Not just your friends, class or year group, not even the entire school! Random strangers view your mistake and ‘lol’ adding their own opinion. When someone is a stranger it is easier to forget a real person is on the receiving end so comments get more and more cruel.
Comments are liked and the photo is shared again and again.
When you go home, when you are trying to sleep, that little notification light is flashing on your phone, because even at 3 in the morning people have time to be cruel.
Add in the pressure of lessons, homework, exams, family life, ever changing friendships and deciding your future and you have a receipe for poor self esteem.
However life and social media can also be amazing and supportive, we can’t hide our children away, so what can we do?
Educate your children and yourself, photoshop, clever photography and careful cropping all portray an unachievable image. Show your daughters and sons the image they see is not real, show them normal.
Really show them normal, show them you! Don’t criticise your body, don’t hide it or show embarrassment. Walk tall and be proud of your amazing body. You are modelling a healthy body image that they will carry for life.
Education around social media is so important, know which platforms are being used, be open to communication. Discover together how to block people, unfollow, hide and log off. Leave phones out of the bedroom at night, we all need to switch off and sleep in peace. Understand though that this may be hard. Imagine knowing people are saying things about you and you can’t retaliate.
Find positive networks, they are out there. I belong to a couple and find them an amazing source of knowledge and support.
Please let me know if you have any more suggestions!