Body Image and Social Media

Date: 07/03/2023

Title: How do I manage the impact of Social Media on my kid?

00:00:00 Speaker 1
It. How much is social media impacting your daughter's body image and self esteem? Well, let's
talk about that today on tips on teens. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage and family
therapist, and I specialize in helping kids, teens, and families live happier lives. I lead
two organizations teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit at 501 c three organization, child
and Teen Counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California. Every Wednesday at noon, I jump
onto Facebook Live to answer your parenting questions. Let's answer today's. I'm worried
about how TikTok is affecting my daughter, but I don't know the best way to handle it. We try to
limit the amount of time she's on TikTok. I would prefer she not be on it at all, but I've compromised
with her on some free screen time as long as her homework is all done. I see signs that she compares
herself to girls she sees on TikTok, and it's affecting her self esteem. I try to show her that
she's beautiful too, but my words seem to have

00:01:04 Speaker 1
no effect. What can I do? Thank you for your question. I think all of us parents can relate to this
one. It's a huge and complex topic. And this conversation we're having now, as brief as it is,
is hopefully to get the ball rolling, help you kind of go deeper, and help support your daughter.
There's so many ways to go with this. I think that social media is rife with unhealthy body image
messages for our children, especially our girls. Not that our boys can't be affected too, but
I think girls and women have so historically been objectified in the media and been given the
message that your strength comes from how you look. Again, not that boys can't be affected by
this too, but it's so endemic in all of media and of course, how someone looks. And conventional
beauty is such a short period of time in someone's life, but when you're young, it's hard to really
recognize that. And I think it's really important that we as adults start setting a better example.
Now, obviously, you can limit screen

00:02:08 Speaker 1
time as much as you can, but they're still going to be exposed to it. Whether you limit TikTok
they'll find on other sites, in movies, TV shows, at lunch, at school, they're still going to
be exposed to this. So how do we counteract this? I think that it's about how we build our child's
self esteem and not just about their looks. You can tell your kid that she's beautiful to your
blue in the face, and it's not going to change how she sees herself in a negative way. I think it's
important we focus on things outside of physical beauty. For example, beauty can take many
forms. It's easy to focus on physical beauty. That's the easiest thing to focus on. It doesn't
take effort to focus on that, but nor we can focus on someone's strength of character, their
kindness, their generosity, their perseverance. There's a bunch of adjectives we could go
into that we look into and admire about a person that we love and cherish. And those are things
that I think we want to focus on, not only with your

00:03:04 Speaker 1
daughter, but also with other people in your life and also with yourself. So, for example, do
you talk down about yourself a lot in front of your kids? Do your kids see you going to the scale
every day and complaining that you're not meeting your goal and that you can't fit in that outfit
you want to fit into? Do they hear you? Your negative body image issues come out because that's
an example that they will follow, because they see you doing it because it validates the insecurity
they have. So I think it's important that we as adults set the example with a healthy self esteem
and healthy body image issues, with acceptance and understanding that beauty comes in many
forms. Also, if you're going to talk about physicality and how a body is, I think it's more important
that we talk about what a body does than how a body looks because you can control what a body does.
We don't have as much control with how a body looks. There's a lot of genetics that comes into
play that we're just destined

00:04:02 Speaker 1
to have now. There are models online and TikTok dancers and influencers who spend all their
time focusing on what they eat or what they don't eat and their own eating disorders that they
have, their their plastic surgeries, their photoshopping and all. This stuff to look a certain
way and present an image that is strong and confident and happy, which, of course, is all an illusion.
But when you're 14, you don't realize it's an illusion. Hopefully, as we get to be an adult, we
start realizing this is all an illusion, it's all fantasy. When you're 14, it looks like a reality
to you because you don't have the context of life experience to understand that's what it is.
So it's important to talk about those things as well, that these models are getting surgeries
all the time. Their whole life is just exercising and eating what they eat or eating what they
don't eat. Many people in this world, there's a lot of drug usage that comes into play that is
really toxic. So this is not a healthy lifestyle

00:05:02 Speaker 1
to be a model or an influencer. I've met several people in this field and they're not very healthy.
So I think it's important that we understand what is health. I think it's important to understand
when we're talking about eating and what we should eat, how it fuels our body, how it strengthens
our muscles, our bones, our brain, how it helps us move. Again, focus on what the body does instead
of how the body looks. I think it's really important we focus on that. It's a huge topic. We're
talking about. Again, having talked about this regularly in a healthy way, just as you would
talk about drugs or sex or any other topic that is scary or uncomfortable, the more comfort you
bring to the table, as uncomfortable as your kids may be, the more likely they will follow and
understand and reciprocate. So when they are over their heads emotionally, they'll come to
you for support, a safe place where they'll get real information. Again, when you present information
to them, make sure it's factual.

00:06:02 Speaker 1
If there is something about body mass index and all those things, make sure you're getting real
information so they understand what is a healthy body and how much. That is not about your AB
or your waist size, it's about how much muscle you have, what your body can do. Are you exercising
on a fairly regular basis? Again, it's not about being an elite athlete or an elite model. It's
about having balance in your life. And again, going back to you, are you modeling balance for
your kids? And that's a hard thing to do. We all struggle with it. No one finds balance all the
time. But if we can strive towards balance, we're going to hit it more often than not. And hopefully
our kids can follow suit and they can strive for balance as well, because balance is the key.
Anyways, it's a huge topic. I could spend hours talking about this and every family is going
to be a little different. So if you have more questions on this, feel free to give us a call here.
Again. My name is Kent Toussaint with Teen

00:06:58 Speaker 1
Therapy Center and the nonprofit Child of Teen Counseling. Keep sending your questions. We're
going to take two weeks off for the holidays. We back in early January with the next tips on teens.
Have a wonderful holiday in New Year, hope it's healthy and happy, and we'll see you then. Bye
bye, guys.

Understand The Illusion

Societal pressure for girls to look a certain way is so pervasive that it’s impossible to avoid. Kids will still get exposed to unhelpful examples of body image even if you succeed in taking away social media in your house. The key for parents is to get comfortable talking about body image. Your kid doesn’t have the life experience to understand that the examples of “beauty” they see on social media are an illusion, not reality. But even more important, are you setting a good example for your child? If parents are critical of their own bodies, it often validates the body insecurity of their children.

There’s more to say!

Body image and social media is a huge topic, and we get into it in this Tips on Teens:

“I’m worried about how TikTok is affecting my daughter, but I don’t know the best way to handle it. We try to limit the amount of time she’s on TikTok. I would prefer she not be on it at all, but  I’ve compromised with her on some free screen time as long as her homework is all done. I see signs that she compares herself to girls she sees on TikTok and it’s affecting her self esteem. I try to show her that she is beautiful too, but my words seem to have no effect. What can I do?”


Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: We love to hear from you!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here –

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.