Ask Julia: How to role model body positivity even when you’re not feeling it

2 min read

I am not in the best shape right now and look what I found staring at me in the magazine aisle at CVS (a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue). As a person is struggling with her own self worth around weight, when I see something like this that makes me feel self-conscious, how do I not overreact in front of my daughter?


Hi LC:

It’s difficult to physically escape the media. These largely unattainable images are strategically placed in areas you are most likely to see them. It’s equally difficult to emotionally escape the media, but more plausible.

You are not her; she is not her.

*She* is most likely airbrushed and cropped and spent hours in makeup and is photographed under exceptional (and expensive) lighting. Her cellulite and wrinkles and blemishes and everything else that have been socially constructed as “flaws” disappear with a simple double click.

Know this.

Understand that the majority of the people behind the multibillion dollar beauty industry have an overarching agenda to make you believe there is something wrong with your body, and their product is going to “fix” it. Also notice I said the word industry. Their goal is to make a profit, presumably off of women’s vulnerabilities and insecurities. And I hate to say it, but I think they’re winning.

But they don’t have to, at least not in your house.

You have a choice about how you react to incidents like the one you described. Learn about the beauty industry. Understand what they do to photos. Don’t buy products with manipulative advertising. Teach your daughter this so maybe, just maybe, she doesn’t think the same things when she is staring at a model on a magazine cover. And I understand what you’re saying about your feelings and struggles concerning your body, trust me, I do. I encourage you to talk to someone (a professional, a friend) about these feelings and continue to be proactive not only for your daughter, but for yourself.

You deserve it.



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TaylorBiobody image workbook for teens

Dr. Julia V. Taylor is a Counselor Educator at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. She is author of The Body Image Workbook for Teens,  The Bullying Workbook for Teens, Salvaging Sisterhood, G.I.R.L.S: Group Counseling Activities for Enhancing Social and Emotional Development, and a children’s book, Perfectly You.  She can be reached at

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