Creating body kind homes for young Australians and their families
Tuesday 24 August 2021
Butterfly Foundation for eating disorders and body image today launched Body Kind Families, an initiative to help parents of teenagers create a home environment that supports positive body image and being body kind.
Having a positive body image supports physical and mental health and can reduce the risk of developing an eating disorder. However, in today’s world it can be challenging for teenagers to feel accepting and confident in their bodies and hard for parents/carers to know what to say or how best to support their young people. As part of Butterfly’s annual awareness initiative Body Kind, families across Australia will now be able to access a wide range of resources designed to support parents/carers in connecting with the teen in their life around body image and being body kind; to their own body and to others.
Supported by nib foundation, Body Kind Families is a prevention initiative developed by Butterfly with the support of leading body image experts. Based around the known risk and protective factors for body dissatisfaction and topics that parents told Butterfly were important to them, content has been designed to boost parents’ confidence in promoting positive body image and responding to body image concerns. Families will have access to free resources – webinars, videos, tips sheets and audio content – as well as activities to help the whole family be body kind.
As teenagers become more independent, parents often feel that their influence diminishes. However, studies show that parents can positively and significantly impact the relationships teens have with their body, eating and exercise both directly in what they say and do in front of their children, and also indirectly, by helping their teen to navigate and build resilience to the inevitable pressures from friends and social media.
“Body Kind Families is about helping parents embrace their teen’s changing body and growing independence in a way that supports positive body image. If parents can send the message that all bodies are good bodies, and that all bodies belong in our world and especially in their home, children and teens are more likely to be accepting of their own, said Kevin Barrow, CEO of Butterfly Foundation. “Body Kind Families encourages parents to avoid commenting on appearance, weight, or size and instead shift the focus to healthy behaviours and being kind in the way we move, nourish and nurture our bodies”
Body Kind Families is for anyone caring for children aged 12 and above, although carers of children of all ages could benefit. This initiative helps parents navigate the confusing messages around weight, food, exercise and health and assists parents who might be struggling with appreciating and accepting their own body.
Body Image Expert Consultant and Associate Professor at Victoria University, Dr Zali Yager, has supported the development of Body Kind Families. “We know that parents across Australia are really aware of the need to build positive body image in their kids, but they are struggling with how to do this in the current cultural environment, where social media and peers have such a strong influence. Body Kind Families effectively meets this need by providing brief, practical advice for parents of teens around body image and associated issues like healthy relationships with eating and physical activity, and body shaming.”
“It’s great to finally have a high quality, evidence-informed, practical source of information designed to meet the needs of parents of teens. Body Kind Families contains everything that parents need to know to create a more inclusive and body confident home,” she added.
According to Clinical Psychologist Louise Adams, who fronts one of the Body Kind Families videos addressing weight stigma, “Parents have the power to stop the legacy of body dissatisfaction. We learned to hate our bodies. We can un-learn it and pave the way for a body inclusive future.”
Funding for the Body Kind Families program has been provided by nib foundation, thanks to a $40,000 grant received as part of their Health Smart Grants program.
“We aim to partner with organisations, like Butterfly, who are committed to creating health-promoting environments that empower youth to make smarter health choices,” said nib foundation Executive Officer, Amy Tribe.
“The Body Kind Families resources are a fantastic example of this, ensuring our youth and their families are equipped with practical information that helps promote healthy attitudes towards body image and prevents the development of more serious health issues later on,” she added.
The initiative launches today with free resources available for parents who sign-up at www.butterfly.org.au/bodykindfamilies. Body Kind Families is part of Butterfly’s annual Body Kind awareness initiative, creating positive body positive environments for young Australians. It complements the Body Kind Schools program with over 1,300 schools involved this year. Body Kind Families is also a key Butterfly activity in support of Body Image and Eating Disorder Awareness Week (BIEDAW), from 6-12 September 2021.
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Butterfly is Australia’s leading not for profit supporting everyone affected by eating and body image issues. You can find out about Butterfly and our prevention services for schools and communities at www.butterfly.org.au or contact our education team – email@example.com
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