By: Karen Boyarsky.
If you have a daughter, niece, granddaughter or even family friend, you know how difficult it can be to explain to them that the models that they see in fashion magazines and the celebrities they see in movies and on TV aren’t a true representation of the female body. If you hope to raise a girl with a healthy body image, there are a few things that you need to know. Here are five tips for raising girls with healthy body images and high self-esteem:
1. Stop the Comparisons
If you find yourself helping your daughter compare herself to the stick-thin women in magazines, stop! In the book “The Beauty Myth”, author Naomi Wolfe tells us that girls’ heart rates increase when they look at pictures of models. If you catch your daughter wishing that she looked like the girls contained in the pages, explain to your daughter that she is a unique person who doesn’t have to and shouldn’t look like anyone else. Never compare your daughter to her sister, her cousin or her friends; celebrate her for the individual that she is.
2. Discuss It
Sit down with your girl and ask her what she thinks about herself. You can’t help build your daughter’s self-esteem if you don’t know what level it is at. Find out how your daughter feels about her body, her intelligence and her abilities. Your daughter may have unrealistic feelings that you can help her sort through if you just take the time to talk to her.
3. Look for Real Role Models
Instead of buying your daughter the latest issues of Seventeen, Glamor or Cosmopolitan, buy her copies of National Geographic, Dog Fancy or any other educational magazine. Contained within these pages will be real role models that your daughter can look up to. Sit down and read stories together about women that are making a real difference in the world. These are the women that you should encourage your daughter to look up to and try to emulate, not the models in the magazines or the actresses on television.
4. Provide Encouragement
If your daughter displays an interest in school or extra-curricular activities, encourage her participation. Attend events whenever you can, help her practice and help her do her homework. Compliment your daughter on her attempts and support her efforts. Studies have shown that sports and educational success contribute greatly to a girl’s positive body image and sense of self. Instead of taking your daughter shopping for clothes and make-up, take her shopping for books, craft supplies and sports equipment.
5. Be Realistic
When you find your daughter a bit down about her appearance, search the Internet for images of these girls and women before they were photoshopped for the magazines. You can easily find pictures of these women without their professionally made-up faces and altered clothing. Give your daughter lessons on how to dress her body, teaching her that clothes that fit are always more flattering, similar to this, than those that are too tight or too loose. Provide your daughter with realistic notions of what her hair will do, how her body should look and always encourage your daughter to eat healthy rather than “diet”.
It’s up to us to raise girls with positive body images and that can take real effort. As your daughter enters her teenage years, you’ll need to step up your efforts in providing her with real role models and realistic expectations. Spend your time building your daughter up, not tearing her down. If you can follow the five tips above, you’ll stand a better chance of raising a daughter with high self-esteem.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Karen Boyarsky is an avid blogger. You can follow her on Twitter @boyarskykareni
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