PCOS

Parenting Tips | 7 Ways to Promote a Positive Body Image for Girls With PCOS

June 2021

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” 

I am sure you have read this sentence before or at least heard of it. It can’t go unnoticed or unheard from any girl’s life. While this sentence was immortalised by the evil queen from the fairy tale “Snow White,” over the years it has transcended the good-bad ethics and cast a spell on the psyche of young girls and women alike.

It has subtly made aesthetics a vital aspect of one’s persona, the most desirable attrib ute. They might not think of being the fairest (or they might), but most desire to be the prettiest of all with an hourglass figure. 

This is where we have gone wrong. Creating a distorted mindset about body image for young girls from a very tender age. It is no wonder that young girls dealing with the challenges of certain health conditions like PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) suffer so much in silence because of body image issues. 

Beyond The Hormonal Havoc 

The problems associated with PCOS start to show up at the onset of puberty and continue to do so till the late 30s or early 40s. If not managed conducively, it can lead to physical and mental health crises.

PCOS is a condition where a woman has higher than normal levels of testosterone (male sex hormone) in the body, and it doesn’t stay there to be kind to her in any way.

The most common physical problems young girls and women have to face due to PCOS are –

  • Acne (extreme breakouts and scars)
  • Hirsutism (excessive hair growth) on face, chest and stomach
  • Hair loss or male pattern baldness
  • Obesity

The health conditions that PCOS can trigger are –

  • Type II diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Infertility
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Cholesterol issues
  • Depression and anxiety

While most health conditions due to PCOS don’t have a visible effect, problems like acne, facial hair, being overweight and hair loss make a dent in a woman’s self-esteem. They could also be a reason for unending stress in her life. Sometimes it takes years of therapy and counselling to see oneself without the lens of PCOS. Appearance issues make it difficult for one to have a positive outlook towards body image.

Some studies suggest that women with PCOS have BID (body image distress) that can lead to anxiety and depression. But depression and anxiety is not just a result of BID; hormonal imbalances, effects of medicine can impact one’s mental well-being too.

The Mirror Doesn’t Tell You The Whole Truth 

It takes some amount of empathy, understanding and a multidimensional approach to reinstate positivity among young girls who are dealing with body image challenges because of PCOS.

The idea is to talk to young girls about all things beautiful, beyond the body. Building a strong personality from a tender age gives girls power to endure, accept and embrace – oneself without any inhibitions – acne, weight issues, thinning hair be damned.

Inculcating The Right Perception of Body Image From The Early Years – The Dos And Don’ts 

If you have a teenage daughter, sister or know anyone in her teens or twenties who is trying hard to deal with body image issues along with PCOS, STOP doing these things around them.

 

  1. Talking negatively about their looks: Avoid saying things like, “You look fat in this dress,” or “OMG! Those pimples are back,” or “I think you should try to lose a few kilos.” Yes, all this is said with the right intentions — to help and heal, but it affects a girl’s psyche. The pain and helplessness felt in these words are insurmountable. Instead, try highlighting the positives – talk about her achievements, discuss a new hobby or book, cook or try gardening together. Do things that can help her see the beauty of life beyond the mirror.
  1. Talking about fertility issues and pregnancy: The present itself is daunting; they don’t need to know how haunting the future might be. Instead, talk about strong female role models and approach femininity differently. Tell your daughter or sister about women who created history and made their place in this world. Don’t make motherhood the focal point of femininity. Talk about women achievers – Mary Kom, P. T. Usha, Kalpana Chawla, Mithali Raj, or why the name Kamala Harris stirred up so much attention in the recent past. History is full of women who made it to the top, sometimes ditching the mirror altogether. It is imperative to make young girls feel empowered right from a tender age, and nothing can help you do it better than narrating these real stories.
  1. Talking about medication all the time: Of course, she will need them – to regularise periods, fight insulin resistance, keep her hormones in check and so on. But don’t make a big deal out of it. Emphasising the dependence on medication just kills the joy of being and rejoicing.
  1. Talking about other people’s beauty and fitness regimen: Understand that beauty regimens and grandma’s home remedies don’t work on everybody, particularly with girls who suffer from PCOS. If Multani mitti, orange – banana peels and other remedies didn’t give relief from acne and breakouts, don’t burden someone with more such remedies and their half-baked promises. Instead, take the help of an expert or ensure to implement the right diet practices, have a scientific weight management plan in place and see to it that she doesn’t skip medications.
  1. Talking negatively about food and eating habits: Many teens and young girls resort to stress eating as a coping mechanism to deal with body image issues. This has a dual consequence – it increases weight and exacerbates BID, making the hormones go haywire to flare up other underlying conditions. No, talking negatively about food habits and weight issues will not help. Instead, try a holistic approach – therapy, diet, exercise – because everything is interrelated when it comes to dealing with PCOS.
  1. Talking and not listening: Sometimes, you don’t need to talk, especially about physical issues that are visible and existing. Sometimes be the one who listens, lends a shoulder and allows one to vent (this is important, especially if you are a mother). For girls, with PCOS, pent-up emotions are equally dangerous as hormonal imbalances.
  1. Talking about relationships and break-ups: Beware of what you say about your relationships with girls suffering from PCOS. Being overweight, facial hair and acne might make it difficult to even step out of one’s comfort zone, leave alone approaching someone to start a conversation or friendship. Negative connotations about relationships will only make her withdraw. Instead, try teaching her about the basics of a healthy relationship – trust, communication, creating a support system – things that don’t just revolve around looks and its other extended parameters in a relationship.

Dealing with the challenges of PCOS is not easy, we know that. Our HealPCOS program is built on the sole principle to heal and deal with its challenges providing easy-to-follow nutrition and weight management advice. Our program also stresses the importance of psychological counselling to improve one’s body image perception and improve mental well-being.

For more information visit, https://www.fitterfly.com/heal-pcos or give us a missed call on +91 9324 976 363

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