You may already have a distaste for your daughter’s friends and there are certainly other reasons to keep your child away from the elitist in-crowd that starts forming younger and younger. Yet, if those popular girls are already talking negatively about body image and throwing around “thinspiration,” you have scientific reason to also ban those tween brats from your house.
Anorexia may be a disease that usually alludes to deeper problems, but Reuters reports that the disorder is also “socially transmitted.” So, fashion magazines and commercials aside, girls can absorb distorted body image from their peers:
The “economic analysis” of anorexia, using a sample of nearly 3,000 young women across Europe, concluded that peer group pressure is one of the most significant influences on self-image and the development of anorexia… ”We found evidence that social pressure, through peer shape, is a determinant in explaining anorexia nervosa and a distorted self-perception of one’s own body,” [said Dr. Joan] Costa-Font.
While there are certainly efforts a parent can make in their own home to advocate for positive body image, mothers and fathers are increasingly finding themselves powerless against the loudness of media. And for every mother who makes an effort to not fat-shame under her roof, countless ads, TV, and magazines consumed by countless kids and young adults often do exactly that. So while your daughter is young and the play-dates and sleepovers are still happening on your watch, have a listen from to time to glean what that kiddie chatter is about. Children as young as eight years old are developing eating disorders and a recent survey revealed that 51% of 9 and 10-year-olds felt better about themselves when they’re on a diet. So there is more than enough reason to keep a young, perpetually dieting fashionista off that birthday party list — and to, of course, drop a word of concern to her family.