Extremes in life do keep things interesting so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that November 2010 saw me watching ‘Humpy’ perform with my Nan and this weekend grooving to the beat of Miley Cyrus with Miss 6 and Miss 8. If the weekend papers were to be believed, Miley was going to present herself in some rather risque outfits and possibly be a BAD role model for the young girls that form a large part of her fan base. Hannah Montana she is no longer and this was clear from the moment she exploded onto the stage wearing black leather hotpants, sparkly bra, long boots and suspenders. As Miley sung her heart out, Miss 6 whispered to me, ‘Does her dad know what she is wearing tonight?” Admittedly this songstress probably had to lie down to get her outfit on but a bad role model? No, she looked like a fit and healthy young woman and not a stick thin shadow of a girl which is the image we get so used to seeing in the media. It got me thinking about a recent US study, which found that ninety-seven percent of women will say something negative about their body today. An international survey found 68% of 15 year old girls are on a diet, while an Australian report found that thirty percent of women aged 18 to 23 have experimented with purging, laxatives or fasting to lose weight. My friend and colleague Tara Diversi, co-author of The Good Enough Diet discussed this in the media last week and she believes there are four main factors contributing to women’s negative body image, all of which I wholeheartedly agree with. 1. Parents Body Image – kids are incredibly perceptive and will pick up when parents are not happy with their own bodies or dieting. Be careful what you say about food and your body in front of your kids. 2. Mixed messages – avoid labelling food as good vs bad. Kids can very easily assume that eating a ‘bad’ food makes them bad too. Its all about balance with variety being the key. 3. Models in media – we are constantly surrounded by images of perfect women and even though most have been airbrushed and far removed from reality, girls and women still want to look like them. 4. Taking control – it may not be weight that is causing unhappiness but it can be perceived to be the easiest to control. There is where quick-fix diets come in and research very clearly shows that most people on fad diets put the weight back on plus some. Focus on the positive aspects of yourself and how you can maximise your performance through good nutrition and exercise from the inside out not from the outside in. Don’t compare yourself to others, because its just like comparing Miley Cyrus and Humpy, both are very different to each other but still have great features as individuals.