We often tell young girls there is no one right body type. And we need to start telling boys the same thing.
Just like girls, boys are affected by the media's representation of unrealistic body types. Whether in magazines or on social media, boys hear the message that in order to be more masculine they need a chiseled physique.
This is completely untrue.
Boys need healthy perceptions, feelings, and behaviours towards their bodies and our society often neglects that. And it's time we change this conversation.
1. Talk about health
Rather than focusing on obtaining a muscular physique, focus on teaching young boys to eat healthy and stay physically active. A healthy body is a strong body.
2. Do a reality check
Just like young girls, boys are also subjected to seeing unrealistic body images. Children are constantly looking at advertisements that show photoshopped bodies. For boys, this is seeing video games, billboards and magazine spreads of models and athletes with, as the media calls them, "perfect" bodies. This is where it's important to sit down with young boys and give them a reality check: that images are often enhanced. It's not just female images that are filtered and altered. It's important for parents to sit down with boys and educate them on the fact that beauty standards are often misleading.
3. Question the bottom line
Many of the chiseled bodies boys see in the media are linked to advertisements that are selling a product. This should be avoided. Seek out other role models in the media that are celebrated for their different body type.
4. Celebrate wins
Praise efforts, skills and accomplishments and share stories of men who are famous for their achievements, not their muscles.
5. Set an example
In your household, ban "fat talk." There is no need for that. Instead, promote healthy habits and behaviours, whether that is practising meditation with your son before bed or cooking a healthy meal as a family.