For young people who may be struggling with body image and struggling to find the difference between what’s authentic and what’s not, are there any tips that you can offer them based on your experience to help them cultivate a more positive social media?
I think it’s really good to have that discussion with your friends, or even your parents, and say “I’m really struggling with my body image, and I want to make sure I’m using my social media in a positive way,” because that’s the first thing we do when we wake up is to check our social media. For those young girls checking Instagram, they’re getting an instant hit of these young girls in bikinis or fitness models, and I think it’s super important to be uncomfortable and have that conversation and not be afraid to unfollow people that make you feel bad about yourself.
A lot of young people might feel comfortable talking to their friends about their body image, but for parents, and especially parents who may be concerned about their children and their relationship with body image, what do you feel is the best way to be able to open that dialogue about body image?
That conversation is initially going to be very uncomfortable for both parties. I know that Dove has resources online that parents can go and look through that can help them have that conversation with their kids, which I think is really important. There are resources out there, so you don’t have to go into it blind.
For people who maybe don’t understand just how prevalent the issue is, why would you say that it is so important we tackle the subject of body image through Dove’s National Inquiry?
I think it is really important that the conversation is happening now and hopefully will continue to happen. We don’t want these young girls growing up thinking that they need to be teeth whitening every day or they need to have plastic surgery, or they need to lose weight, because then they’re falling into that trap of diet culture. I think it’s really important to have these conversations because, on social media, there is this new wave of diet culture coming in and all these young girls suddenly want to lose weight. I would hate one day when I have kids to see my young girls growing up in a world thinking that it’s okay to lose weight. You don’t need to when you’re absolutely perfect the way you are.
What are some everyday actions that people can take to help contribute to an environment that’s more positive and inclusive in relation to body image?
My advice for parents is to make sure that the language you’re using towards your kids is positive. I grew up in that diet culture where my family made it okay to lose weight and go on that stupid soup diet that was big in the nineties. I think to this day I would think ‘Oh, that’s pretty normal,’ but really, it’s not. I think the language we use is really important. Social media is so unhinged in my eyes and there’s just no filtering, so I think that’s where people do need to take control and follow accounts that make you feel amazing about yourself.
If you could go back and give 10-year-old Allira one piece of advice based on where you are now in your self–love and body positivity journey, what would you tell her?
I would tell her to just be present in everything that is happening and to love that little body of hers because you’re never going to have that beautiful young body, and that it’s okay and you don’t need to change anything. I would tell her so much because she definitely got bullied a lot and was very hard on herself, so I would tell her don’t be so hard on yourself and just love yourself.
Do you want to be a part of starting a national conversation about body image? Join us in making a positive impact by supporting Dove and the Butterfly Foundation's petition for a National Inquiry into body image. Click here to sign the petition.
If you or anyone you know has been affected by the issues raised in this article, help is always available. For support, please call the Butterfly Foundation on 1800 334 673.