WithAll Blog


3 Things Teens Wish Adults Knew about Diet Culture & Body Image

Aug 23, 2021

Elle Jones
My name is Elle Jones, I’m 18 and was one of the WithAll 2021 summer interns. Throughout the summer, I worked on a project focused on infusing youth voices into WithAll’s What to Say program. Research shows that what adults say matters, but WithAll wanted to hear from teens like me how it matters and what adults can do to better support us. I ended up interviewing five teenagers, each of whom had experienced some form of disordered eating. Throughout these interviews, I discovered that although every story is different, there are three basic things that we wish adults knew and practical ways to help us.

1. What we see in the media isn’t reality and it affects us

All of my interviewees mentioned that although there has been more diversity in the media recently, we still have a long way to go. While some of them have worked on unfollowing social media accounts that make them feel insufficient, others still find themselves in a state of comparison.

How Adults Can Help:

To combat this comparison, I recommend working to help your teenager stay connected to real life. Spending too much time looking at social media can lead teenagers to develop a negative relationship with their bodies.

2. However, social media can have both positive and negative effects on our mental health.

A lot of the time, social media is viewed as a platform that fosters constant negative comparisons between teenagers. Some of my interviewees mentioned that when they spent too much time on Instagram or TikTok, they would find themselves comparing their lifestyles with people that they followed. However, my other interviewees mentioned positive aspects of social media as well. Social media helped two of them find community during their eating disorder recovery by following body-positive and real nutrition-focused accounts.

How Adults Can Help:

Because social media has both positive and negative effects, the biggest thing you can do as an adult and role model in your teenager’s life is to help them stay connected; ask them to reach out to friends, participate in extracurricular activities, and spend time with their family.

No matter how positive your teenager’s relationship with social media may be, it’s still important for them to experience real life.

3. It is difficult to prevent your kids from having an introduction to diet culture—so do your part not to reinforce it!

Out of my five interviewees, four of them remember hearing about diet culture (the need to restrict what you eat for the sake of your appearance) sometimes in lower school. They weren’t introduced to it by a teacher or by their parents. Instead, they saw it in magazines, in cookbooks, and on the television. Based on their responses, we can assume that as long as the media and diet culture exist, this initial introduction is inevitable. More importantly, each of my interviewees recalled a time after this initial introduction when they felt diet culture was reinforced: when their doctor recommended they lose weight, when their parents started dieting, or when their friends talked about wanting to be skinny.

How Adults Can Help:

As a role model in your teenager’s life, you can’t prevent them from being introduced to diet culture. However, modeling a healthy relationship with food and with your body can help them to build a positive relationship with themselves. Take our pledge to stop diet and weight talk, and practice these simple changes to have a positive impact on your teenager!

My name is Elle Jones, I’m 18 and was one of the WithAll 2021 summer interns

What to Say Coaches Challenge

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Take The Pledge

THE PLEDGE: I believe that words matter. I want to make a positive impact on the kids in my life by stopping harmful diet and weight talk. I am committed to making sure that every child gets a chance to develop healthy relationships with food and body.


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Shannon assists with the logistics of development and operations and making every day run as smoothly as possible. Her day-to-day focuses on our Recovery Support Program, budget management, events, and administrative support. She enjoys being part of the nonprofit world and finding ways to help enhance the organization. She has a heart for serving others and helping people succeed.

Shannon has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Health & Exercise Science from Gustavus Adolphus College and a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) from Walden University.

Outside of work, you can find Shannon chasing her two girls around, attending sporting events and finding the next brewery or winery to explore.

Lindsay leads our operations, programming, fundraising, and communications to better fulfill our mission. She enjoys engaging with our supporters and stakeholders to build stronger connections to our work. Outside the office, you can find her planning her next trip, exploring the Twin Cities, or reading her book club’s latest pick.

With ten years of experience in nonprofit and foundation administration, Lindsay is a creative project manager working to strengthen all our operations. She loves being a part of a team deeply dedicated to discovering innovative and effective strategies to end eating disorders and is excited to invite others into this important work. Efficient and collaborative, she executes activity across all operations, including fundraising, events, communications, and programming. Lindsay has a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Northwestern, St. Paul, and a fundraising certificate from the University of St. Thomas. She and her family live in Richfield, MN.

As Executive Director, Lisa leads WithAll’s strategic growth as a sustainable social enterprise dedicated to the prevention of and healing from eating disorders.

Lisa has more than 20 years of experience in public affairs, community relations, and law, and nearly 15 years of experience in non-profit leadership, most recently at Minnesota Public Radio/American Public Media. She is a graduate of Mitchell Hamline School of Law, a member of the Minnesota Bar, and a Minnesota Supreme Court appointee to Minnesota’s Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board. She volunteers with her daughter’s school and with youth sports.

Lisa does this work because she knows eating disorders are not a choice; they are deadly, and they are everywhere. She also knows kids are not born with harmful thoughts and actions around food or their body—and it’s our job as adults to keep it this way so they can focus their precious brains and time on things that matter.

Lisa finds laughter, all children, and the numerous variations of sparkling water to be delightful.