Our niece is down for the summer staying with MIL. She is 16, super funny and unique- I adore her to no end.Watching her grow up has been amazing. Like most teenagers she obsesses and worries about her body, she was telling me today she did not like her stomach.She is beautiful and actually very thin so everything she is seeing in the mirror is major body dismorphia. She was pointing out all these tiny details on her belly that almost everyone I know has.
We talked about it for a bit and I told her a bit about how I used to do the same thing as a teenager and it really was an obsession to look a certain way and I was not seeing "the truth in the mirror". I was honest that it was a long journey to learning self acceptance and love. We talked about being healthy and happy and how we can be our own worst enemy. Basically I was just open about my own struggles and answered her questions and assured her that she was beautiful(inside and out) and also health. We have always talked about things. I still remember the summer she asked me about boys. Her mom knows we talk and encourages me to be open with her and to be an aunt she can come to and get insight on life.
Then she said that she had mentioned hating her stomach to BIL's wife and she said she did not need to lose weight, "just work hard on toning her stomach up a bit." Niece seemed worried because she did not know how to do this
I am (maybe irrationally) annoyed. BIL's wife has body image issues so I'm not shocked she said this. I mean this is the women who got a boob job a day after her son came home from a leg surgery with a cast. I guess she could have said worse, way worse. But I just feel like this was a stupid thing to say to our niece while she is obviously seeing herself in such a skewed way! She was just worried about non exsistant body fat and talking to her Aunts because she wants adult women input, why plant a seed for her to now obsess over not being toned enough? She is 16 and very impressionable. Now she is obsessed with the need to be toned. She needs to be worrying about college and friends, and all having fun, not the need to tone up.
Would you ever suggest a teenage girl with body image issues needs to "tone up"? I just can't see anyone thinking this is the right thing to say!