Puberty causes many physical and emotional changes in your daughter, including a heightened awareness of body image. But experts say negative body image starts even earlier than that.
According to the Center for Disease Control and National Association of Eating Disorders, "by age 6, girls start to express concerns about their own weight or shape."
By the time girls are teens, they’ve been bombarded with images of what is deemed “ideal beauty” via social media, TV, movies, magazines, and cosmetics ads. Add to that bombardment selfie retouch apps and Photoshop and soon those unrealistic images become body goals.
Helping your daughter develop a healthy body image starts early. Here are some ways to encourage girls to have realistic goals and to see themselves as they really are.
Read Helpful Books
Starting at an early age, read books with your daughter that feature girls of all shapes, colors and sizes:
- What I Like About Me!
- A Smart Girl's Guide to Liking Herself — Even On the Bad Days
- Real Beauty: 101 Ways to Feel Great about You
- Big Fat Manifesto
- All Made Up: A Girl’s Guide to Seeing Through Celebrity Hype to Celebrate Real Beauty
Talk to Her Father or Significant Male Role Model
Many dads and male role models don't know what to say or do if a teen girl struggles with poor body image, and don't realize that some of what they say – intentionally or unintentionally – can influence an unhealthy self-image. Explain to the men in your daughter’s life how what they say and do is important.
Praise your Daughter's Skills, Talents and Interests
A teenage girl who is consistently getting positive feedback on her accomplishments that have nothing to do with her physical appearance will gain self-confidence and pride in what she does, not just what she looks like.
Watch TV and Movies with your Daughter
See first-hand what your daughter is exposed to on TV by spending time together watching her favorite shows, then discussing with her afterward the talents and skills of the girls featured. Openly discuss media messages on the program or commercials, and explain how it could have been better handled.
Choose Words Carefully
Words matter. Words like "diet," "pretty," "junk" and "fat" are trigger words that teen girls are hypersensitive to. Substitute words such as "menu," "confident," "snack" and "strong".
Talking openly and positively with your daughter about her body from an early age can give her both information and self-confidence. Parents can have a strong influence on their daughter's self-esteem, even in today's world of media and peer influence. #YouGoGirl
Catherine Russell is Būband's Content Manager