How can I engage my child in a conversation about body image?

Start with the stuff that's already drawing your kids' attention. Sit with them and enjoy their media with them. Ask them what they like and don't like. Ask about a TV show's characters and plotlines. If they're playing a game, ask how to play, and ask how the male and female characters are treated. Here are some ideas to get the conversation started:

  • If you notice something off -- say, a male character flaunts his six-pack abs or a female character's ideas are always played for laughs -- ask your kids how they perceive these things.
  • Ask questions about the characters. Are their looks tied to their success, or do they achieve success based on their grit and determination?
  • Ask whether the characters' bodies are realistic -- do people really look like that in real life? Why would a movie or TV show use characters whose bodies aren't realistic? How do you think a muscular body is achieved?
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