Don’t Fall for the Belly Button Challenge! (#bellybuttonchallenge)

thFirst there was #thighgap…now we have the #bellybuttonchallenge to look forward to.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen the “belly button challenge” all over social media. Apparently, it began in China, but has exploded online.  So…what is the belly button challenge you ask?

Reach behind your back and around your waist and see if your hand can cover/touch your belly button.  For the sake of this blog post, go ahead and try.  Can’t do it? Well, then you are considered “too heavy” according to Chinese social media. But really, it could also mean that your arms are really muscular-right?  When you come down to it… it’s actually a test of shoulder flexibility, and not fitness. (I learned that the shoulder has the greatest range of motion of any joint in the body.)  The belly button challenge has become a way for teens, mostly girls – to seek approval online with their body while shaming others.  It also says a lot about China’s obsession (really everyone’s obsession) with being thin. Teens are snapping #selfies of them-self while doing the challenge and posting them online.

A successful belly button challenge attempt is met with praise, “likes” and affirmations that YOU are thin enough.  If deemed thin enough, then you are accepted by the online “belly button” police.

And if you can’t do the challenge, there is a double standard.  For a boy posting a photo of himself failing the challenge, he still receives “likes.”  Many of those photos will show the boy desperately struggling to reach his belly button while making funny faces, contorting his body and laughing. However, for girls posting their failed attempts online for all the world to see, isn’t met with praise or “likes.”  She is telling the world that she is unhealthy…. unworthy, and shameful. This can do a number on anyones body image and self-esteem.

So if you are a teen, don’t fall for this challenge or take it too seriously. Remember, it has nothing to do with health. It’s just another silly social media game to laugh about… and nothing more.

Confronting Peer Pressure With Your Teen This Summer

Guest blog By Tammy Walsh

With school out for summer break, teens are likely to spend a lot of free time with friends and may face challenging situations they weren’t expecting. This can be scary for parents, but know that you are not helpless!

Summertime presents a great opportunity to start talking with your teen about peer pressure and the influences it can have on his or her behavior. Take advantage of this time to work with your teen on confronting peer pressure and doing what they think is right.

Here are some things you can do this summer to make sure your teen can appropriately handle situations where they feel pressured to participate in something they aren’t entirely comfortable with:

  • Have a conversation, not confrontation: Whenever you choose to talk to your teen about peer pressure, make sure you are having a discussion with them, not lecturing to them. If your teen feels like he or she is being lectured to, he or she may respond defensively and not listen to you. Even if your teen is being unresponsive or appears agitated, remain calm and don’t give up. If you are looking for ways to initiate a conversation, take a look at these conversation starters.
  • Prepare an exit strategy: Sometimes teens simply don’t know what to say when pressured to participate in a risky behavior like experimenting with drug and medicine abuse. Take some time to brainstorm phrases that your teen can say if pressured to engage in a potentially dangerous activity. Here are a few examples to get started:
    • “No thanks, I don’t do that stuff.”
    • “No thanks, I’m not interested.”
    • “The side effects just aren’t worth it to me.”
    • “I’m committed to living a healthy lifestyle and doing drugs is not part of that.”

Even saying something like, “If you were my real friend, you wouldn’t ask me to do that” can turn the conversation on the perpetrator. And finally, be sure to remind your teen that sometimes the best option is to simply walk away.

  • Continue the conversation: Just because you’ve had the conversation once, doesn’t mean you can’t continue it. Bringing up the topic of peer pressure every once in a while will help keep it top of mind for both you and your teen. Casually check in with your teen when an opportunity presents itself. For example, if you see an article about peer pressure in the news, don’t be afraid to share it with your teen—sometimes seeing real life examples can help put things into perspective.

Do you have any other tips for talking to teens about peer pressure? Please feel free to share them in the comments below!

Tammy Walsh

Tammy is a mother of two, a high school math teacher and a contributor to The Five Moms blog on Tammy has a passion for addressing the issue of substance abuse openly and honestly with parents and teens. Through her work with The Five Moms, she hopes to reach more parents on a national level, educating and empowering them with the tools to make positive change in their communities. Join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Twitter

Girl Talk: Interview with Author Dr. Carol Langlois About her new Book for Teen Girls.

6V0TMg_Q5vjyDX905DSgR6lLNxBXApclLF8qhPSQxvQYour Teen Magazine Interview

We’ve loved Dr. Carol Langlois’s advice for Your Teen readers over the years, so we were excited to hear about her new book, Girl Talk: Boys, Bullies & Body Image. We caught up with Dr. Carol to find out more.

Tell us about the approach you took with this book?

In total, I interviewed (and taped) about 160 girls from 10 schools in the Bay Area. After sharing my taped interviews with a few other writers and editors, they suggested that sharing (their stories) from a first person perspective would be very powerful. In the end, I chose 10 stories of ten girls who’s challenges with self-esteem were relatable and transcended culture, race, and socio-economics.

What’s going well for girls these days? 

I would say that their access to and utilization of information is abundant. They can educate themselves on so many topics more easily today. If they want to learn about puberty, smoking, pregnancy, healthy eating, etc.—they can. They know the risks and the pro and cons of most things to make better informed decisions. Many teens today have strong opinions about drugs and alcohol, the environment, or global warming for example because of information from the web. This is incredibly beneficial in helping them make smart choices.

But many are struggling? 

For the book, I interviewed quite a few girls who were dealing with or had survived through some form of an eating disorder, which I think is worth noting. More abundantly were issues of perfection and anxiety—not necessarily unrelated to eating disorders.

Stop the critical self-talk. Instead, model positive self-acceptance around girls.

Teens are stressed out more than ever. I call this  the “duck syndrome.” Think about the duck who looks very serene, calm, and pleasant floating along a lake. Then, if you look under the water she is paddling frantically. That is the duck syndrome. Too many students on the outside appear calm, cool, and collected while on the inside they are completely stressed out. Its a “fake it ’til you make it” mentality. For many, they want to be the great student, the great athlete, and well-liked by peers. But what price do they pay? Proving you can do it all has transformed into an ugly state of unattainable expectations and extremes, which are unhealthy for teens at any age. I’ve seen this further progress into eating disorders for the perfect body and drug addictions to manage the high pace and stress. This is a recipe for disaster.

– See more of this interview here.