Humans are not born unhappy with their weight or body size. Yet feeling this way is common among people of all ages, genders, and sizes. In a culture that equates weight with health and values thinness, the messages in the media and in everyday conversations can make it easy for people to connect their worthiness to their body size.

According to research, about 70% of teenage girls and 65% of teenage boys are unhappy with their bodies. Smolak, L. (2011). Body image development in childhood. In T. Cash & L. Smolak (Eds.),  Body Image: A Handbook of Science, Practice, and Prevention (2nd ed.).New York: Guilford. 

Even more concerning is that research has found that poor body image does not motivate healthy behaviors. In fact, the opposite is true. Compared to adults who were more accepting of their body size, people in the same weight range who were dissatisfied with their body were less likely to exercise and more likely to smoke, participate in yo-yo dieting, and have health concerns including hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

While the idea of loving your body may seem extreme, this research indicates that accepting your body’s natural weight and approaching nutrition, exercise, and health from a place of self-care rather than self-hate can be extremely beneficial for someone’s physical and emotional health. Below are a few resources to help kids, teens, and adults challenge our weight-focused culture in order to embrace size diversity and body acceptance in our communities:

Books for Kids & Teens

Your Body is Brilliant, By Sigrun Danielsdottir (Age: 4+ years old)

Shapesville, By Andy Mills and Becky Osborn (Age: 3+ years old)

Wonder, By R.J Palacia (Age: 8-12 years old)

No Weigh! Teen’s Guide to Positive Body Image, Food, and Emotional Wisdom (Age: 13-16)

Online Resources for Kids & Teens

Center for Young Women’s Health & Young Men’s Health

Why Don’t I Like the Way I Look? – Youtube Video (Age: 12+ years old)

Books for Parents and Adults

I’m, Like, So Fat! Helping Your Teen Make Healthy Choices about Eating and Exercise in a Weight-Obsessed Word, by Dianne Neumark-Sztainer (Parents of kids and teens)

The Body Image Workbook, by Thomas Cash

Body Respect: What conventional health books get wrong, leave out or plain fail to understand about weight, by Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor

Body of Truth by Harriet Brown

Gifts of Imperfections by Brené Brown

Online Resources for Parents and Adults

Why Thinking You’re Ugly is Bad for You with Meaghan Ramsey – TED Talk 

Beauty Redefined 

Raising HAES- Body Kindness for Families – Body Kindness Podcast Episode #92

Your Body is Not an Apology with Activist Sonya Renee Taylor – Body Kindness Podcast Episode #75

– Katelyn Castro, RD, MetroWest Nutrition