Hope For Parents With Struggling Teens

A New Discussion About Body Image

April 17, 2023 Brandon Joffe, LCSW
Hope For Parents With Struggling Teens
A New Discussion About Body Image
Show Notes

On today’s episode, I got to talk with Asha Bhattacharya, who was crowned Miss Anaheim when she was 18 and has been using her platform to spread awareness about mental health ever since.

I used to think all pageants were focused on beauty, and all pretty much the same, and I know I’m not the only one who will benefit from hearing how Miss America and other pageants actually work, and what they’re really about.

I met Asha at this year’s Walk With Hope for Suicide Prevention event. Her passion for mental health awareness grabbed my attention, and I brought her on to talk about using social media in wiser ways, body image, and what she’s learned about processing anxiety.

I loved what Asha had to say in this episode about giving ourselves permission to feel. Many of my clients benefit from learning this type of acceptance. As they build up a tolerance to their once-stuffed emotions, they can be more fully honest about where they’re at. Then I can help them navigate some options regarding what to do from there. But if we deny or stuff what we’re feeling, we can’t process and grow from it.

One example of this is the clients who come in with concerns that they have body dysmorphia. We first have to analyze whether it’s truly dysmorphia, meaning they are seeing something that isn’t there, or whether there are other issues going on around their thoughts, appearance and self-regard.

Sometimes, there are aspects of our appearance that it might be healthy to work on changing, but other times there are features that we need to accept as good and part of who we are.

Asha shares that growing up around mostly white peers led her to believe certain things about her skin color in different stages of her childhood and adolescence, and she also expresses her current thoughts and observations around the topics of diversity and media.

We chat about learning to live healthy lifestyles for better reasons than looks, but how we don’t have to completely deny any desire to look our best either. 

We also spitball about a new hashtag we should probably start: #MakeTheAlgorithmWorkForYou

…by which we mean, instead of insisting that the teens in our lives refrain from engaging in social media at all, what if we instead taught them to engage with more positive content? This would teach the algorithm that they’re interested in uplifting and honest accounts, as opposed to accounts that might perpetuate unrealistic beliefs about our bodies and appearances.