Your own internal dialogue about beauty and body image can leave a lasting impression on your daughter.
When your daughter was a baby, you probably spent countless hours staring at her, marveling at her ability to bring the world to its knees with just her smile. Now, as a pre-teen or teenager, you may notice that her smile and inner light is fading a bit, replaced perhaps by the intense pressure she feels to be beautiful or perfect.
You likely understand that pressure, too, as you find yourself spending too much time in front of the mirror focusing on what you don’t like. Or perhaps you’ve actually caught yourself asking out loud, Do these pants make me look big? If so, you aren’t alone, and your daughter IS listening. You may tell your daughter shes beautiful every day, but if she hears you constantly criticizing your own body, she could be more likely to feel the need to judge herself in a similar way.
A recent viral video titled Real Beauty Sketches vividly reveals to us that women remain their own worst beauty critics. In fact, findings from the video show that only 4 percent of women around the world consider themselves beautiful. Our daughters stand to inherit that inner voice that points out our flaws while helping us forget how fabulous we really are.
What happens when our daughters adopt that inner critic? The video study also reveals that as many as six out of 10 girls avoid activities because they feel bad about their looks. That means our daughters stop raising their hands in class, trying out for a team or engaging in activities they truly love. So how do you help to create a new conversation about beauty and confidence?
Ditch the negative comments
Start by becoming more aware of all those throwaway comments about your own size and shape. Do you sigh when you look at yourself in the mirror? Or say things like, If only I had a different nose/hair/eyes/hips or I really shouldn’t be eating this. If so, try to take a deep breath when you find your own inner critic voicing itself out loud. If your daughter has heard you, try to turn that voice around by sharing things you LOVE about yourself. Take the focus off the physical and think of your real talents.
Turn that voice around by sharing things you love about yourself
Learn to love yourself
It’s not always easy to show a positive or confident attitude about your body all the time in front of your daughter, especially if you don’t feel it. But by making a conscious effort to improve your own outward body confidence, you will help your daughter to feel positive about her own body, too.
Change the Conversation
By recognizing that words hold power, you can immediately start having a healthy conversation about appearance with your daughter. Make sure you aren’t giving in to the thin ideals and rigid beauty standards that our culture creates. By challenging what you see around you in magazines and the media, then talking about it honestly with your daughter, you can help model an empowered attitude about appearance.
Jess Weiner, adjunct professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and has spent over 17 years speaking, writing and teaching on female social issues. A Social Messaging Strategist and Confidence Expert, she has authored the best-selling books A Very Hungry Girl and Life Doesnt Begin 5 Pounds From Now. Weiner has been featured on many television outlets including Oprah, NBCs Today Show and CNN, and her columns have appeared in publications including Glamour and Seventeen.