I saw that my daughter has been posting sexy selfies on Instagram. How do I talk to her about this without her shutting me out?
With the invention of social media, teens are no longer passive consumers of the media's messages. They're creating and sharing images of their own. All over the web, you can find "selfies": photos people take of themselves, often in provocative poses. Whether they're on YouTube or Facebook, girls (and some boys) now feel more pressure to be "camera-ready" -- as if to say that the only way to be valued is to appear sexy.
The teen years are all about experimentation and the search for identity. A lot of times, the impulse to broadcast sexy photos is driven by the desire for attention. Ask your teen whether she wants to get attention by being provocative or by exhibiting other qualities. Help her understand how certain choices make her feel.
Here are some more ways to help teens develop a healthy self-image:
Offer positive role models. Get your two cents in about who your kids idolize or find attractive in the media. Without being heavy-handed, talk about different people you find beautiful who have various body types, ethnicities, and ages, and explain why.
Model positive body talk. Pay attention to how you talk about your own body and those of people you know. If your teen hears you being constantly critical of your looks or the looks of your peers, she will follow your lead. Focus on your teen's qualities and actions that have nothing to do with her body or appearance so she can find strength in her actions and abilities.
Help your kid become a media critic. Pay attention to ads, magazine covers, and billboards. Talk to your kids about how these messages make you feel, and ask them about their own reactions.
Expose the myths. Make sure kids know that celebrities have stylists, hairdressers, personal trainers, and more -- all working to make them look polished. Point out that pictures in magazines have been altered to make models look flawless -- and impossibly thin. Even better, show them just how much work goes into a cover shoot by watching the short "Evolution" film produced by the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty.