Your Teen, Clothes Shopping, and Body Image

teen wearing new stuff after clothes shopping

As your child becomes a teenager, they go through many physical changes as part of puberty. This time of growth and change can be very uncomfortable for many teenagers, making them extremely self-conscious about their bodies and clothes. Shopping for new clothes can help them be more comfortable, but it can also be hard to navigate. Here are some ways you can go clothes shopping with your teen and support their positive body image!

1. Let them have a say

As the parent (and the one spending money!), you have the final say in what comes home and what goes back on the rack. On the way to the dressing rooms, though, let your teen pick out some things they would like to wear! Pay attention to what they pick up. Do they like bright colors or neutrals? Oversized or fitted shirts? Skinny, straight, or bootcut jeans? By paying attention to what they choose, you can learn more about what clothes feel comfortable to them! Encourage them to open up to you about how they feel about their body, and how certain clothes make them feel. This way, you can help them challenge negative body image, and identify clothing that will make them feel good about themselves.

2. Mind your words

There are lots of style “rules” we’ve all heard, but that doesn’t mean your teen needs to hear them all! Some of these rules can be hurtful and make shopping a difficult experience, such as who’s supposed to wear skinny jeans or horizontal stripes. As long as their clothing is age-appropriate and fits your family’s values, letting them pick out things that might seem like rule-breakers to you might be a learning experience for both of you! Be open to trying new things, and if you join them in the dressing room to try on a few items, intentionally speak positively about your body. Try to avoid phrases like “Does this make me look fat?” or words like “slimming,” keeping the conversation around whether something fits you properly instead of how big or small it makes you look.

3. Keep problems about the clothing, not your teen

If something doesn’t work for them while you’re clothes shopping, keep your words about the clothing item, not your child’s body. For example, don’t say “you’re too big for this,” say “this looks a little small on you, let’s find another size.” By making it clear the problem is with the clothing’s fit, and not whether your child is too large/small, you can help them feel comfortable finding a size and type of clothing that fits them well. Make sure you phrase it in a way that makes it clear they are fine as they are, but the clothes need to change, not the other way around.

Now, you are prepared to help your teen shop for clothes for their body as they grow and change into adults!

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