Resisting the latest appearance trends

Parent Info has partnered with the Dove Self-Esteem Project to offer parents advice and information to help children and young people build confidence and feel good about themselves.

In this article, we look at the pressures to fit in with changing body shapes

‘No amount of dieting or exercise will give your child a thigh gap, ab crack or size 000 figure, if their body simply isn't meant to look like thatʼ

The notion of what is deemed a covetable body shape is constantly changing over time. There were the full-figured bodies evident in Renaissance paintings, the hour-glass figures of the Victorian era - accomplished with the help of dangerously tight corsets - and the slender, curveless, body shape of the 1920s, to name just a few.

Now, the latest body shape trends spread quickly across social media. You don’t have to spend long scrolling through these images to come across young people tagging their friends in comments such as ‘leg goals’ and crying face emojis accompanied with a desperate ‘Look at that thigh gap!’ or ‘Check out his biceps’.

The reality is that many of these looks are unattainable for your child, even if they did try very hard. No amount of dieting or exercise will give your child a thigh gap, ab crack or size 000 figure, if their body simply isn't meant to look like that. So what can you do to help your child feel more body confident?

Parent tip: Talk to them about successful celebrities who have spoken out against body-shaming such as Jennifer Lawrence, Ed Sheeran and Kate Winslet. Discussing people that they admire who have also admitted to facing body image pressures, and are fighting against them, could be empowering for your child.

Read more about how to help your child defy body trends.

From the 1900s to today: watch this video together with your child to show them how appearance ideals have always changed over time and there isn't a single 'ideal' body shape that has been favoured over time.

Download your FREE 40-page parent guide to boosting your child's self-esteem here

This downloadable pdf contains expert advice from Dove Self-Esteem Project global experts from the fields of psychology, body image, self-esteem, eating disorders and media representation to create a resource for parents that is focused on advice and action.  

Teachers: for free downloadable teaching resources, go to the Dove Self-Esteem Project area on

These pages are brought to you by Parent Zone and the Dove Self-Esteem Project


The advice published on Parent Info is provided by independent experts in their field and not necessarily the views of Parent Zone or NCA-CEOP.

First published: November 2017


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