A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Proud2BMe is a website that addresses teen issues such as eating disorders, positive body image, and perfectionism. Teens have to register to post comments, which involves entering a username, an email address, and a birth date. If you're under 13, you'll be told you're too young to become a site member; a toll-free helpline number is provided for support. However, kids can go back and change their birth years after being rejected to successfully register. Some posts on the site link to external sites such as HuffPost Women and Pinterest, but it's primarily a safe space for teens to learn and talk.
What's it about?
PROUD2BME is a website for teens that offers personal stories, news items, and a forum to talk about health and body issues. With the tagline "Building a Nation Where Confidence Rules," Proud2BMe features lots of first-person accounts from young people dealing with eating disorders and self-esteem issues. The site -- launched by a Netherlands-based mental-health organization, which then licensed the concept to the U.S.-based National Eating Disorders Association -- says its central goal is "promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight." In addition to reading and commenting on stories about topics such as body-focused ad campaigns and overcoming anorexia, site forums provide an outlet for users' feelings.
Is it any good?
Most of the content on PROUD2BME involves teen-written essays on topics such as self-acceptance and overcoming anorexia. The site isn't designed for every user to log on and upload something he or she has written; teens can, however, share personal stories on the site's message boards. Moderators often add comments with treatment and helpline information.
You'll find more than inspiring stories on the site; several posts touch on impressively in-depth issues, such as the media classifying food as good, bad, or indulge-worthy, or how "bodysnarking" on celebs can negatively impact teens' own self-esteem. Other posts dissect popular ad campaigns that may affect girls' body image and how social media can influence the way you view yourself.
Virtually all components encourage empowerment and positivity in a teen-accessible way. The site's fashion and beauty section, for example, focuses more on media attitudes than it does on makeup. Posts applaud companies who don't retouch ads and offer proactive tips on developing healthy self-esteem.
A few subject headings contain only a few items, and several posts are repeated in different sections, but the site seems to add new items on a semi-weekly basis, so the amount of available information should keep growing. There are plenty of posts about potential self-esteem problems, too -- an important topic for teens to consider. Additional background on the types of eating disorders and general causes or warning signs would provide a bit more context, but, overall, Proud2BMe's mix of personal stories, advice, and facts makes for some first-rate reading.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can discuss self-image and how people at their schools, the media, and other factors tend to influence it.
Eating disorders can involve starvation or binge eating and purging. Talk to your kids about healthy eating and nutrition's role in making you feel good, grow strong, and have energy. Can your child identify several healthy food choices?
Users can post links to their personal websites or blogs. Discuss the safety issues involved with contacting people you don't know online, even if you feel like you have something in common.
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