Focus on fitness helps body image

Crossfit Quarter coach Mel O'Neil-King with Georgia Fiorentino (15).
Crossfit Quarter coach Mel O'Neil-King with Georgia Fiorentino (15).

Psychology lecturer and postdoctoral scholar Bree Abbott said it was normal for adolescent boys and girls to experience a drop in body satisfaction.

Dr Abbott said when children were younger, they were more concerned with what their body could do and didn�t care what it looked like, but about the age of 12, the focus changed, and more rapidly for girls.

By middle adolescence, from about 15, girls felt even worse about the way their bodies looked and boys started to focus more on muscularity as a body ideal.

Taking part in physical activities centred on the body�s functionality could help change the way teens felt about their bodies.

�Talking about how strong their body is, or what it is capable of doing, instead of how it looks all the time can rebalance the lens teens see themselves through,� Dr Abbott said.

She said parents of young girls, particularly mothers, should also model good body image and good habits, such as eating intuitively and talking about eating as a way to feed your body.

She said during adolescence, girls often stopped participating in as many sports and became conscious of the different levels of physical competence between girls and boys.

�Girls who participate in activities that enhance the focus on function are shown to be a lot more satisfied with body function,� she said.

Dr Abbott said women who exercised for the sake of appearance showed less satisfaction with the function of their bodies and were less motivated.