Are you concerned about the many pressures your daughter is facing that can affect how she feels about her appearance? Do you feel it’s affecting her well-being? It’s a concern that many parents share. In this article I’ll share three strategies you can use to support your daughter, to improve girls’ body confidence.
Unfortunately many girls – particularly in their pre-teen and teen years are being increasingly affected by body image worries.
The harsh reality is that mainstream media, social platforms, and celebrity culture emphasise appearance. Girls are continuing receiving the message that their value is wholly about their appearance.
Frankly it makes me cross!
It was one of the main reasons I set up Confident Teens in 2014. To empower girls to see themselves as the amazing individuals they are, with their own unique personalities, abilities, approaches and skills. Their appearance is only one facet of them – not the whole story.
There is a lot we can do as adults to support and empower girls. What is key is helping them to build their awareness of the messages they are receiving. In this article I share three effective strategies to improve girls’ body confidence:
Challenging unrealistic ideals
The media bombards us with images portraying the perfect body, starting from a very young age.
For example, the way Disney princesses are drawn in every single movie. Take a look at the illustration at the top of this blog, and compare the width of her eyes to the width of her teeny-tiny waist. You will quickly see how utterly unrealistic this is!
And these are the images we are all seeing from the youngest age.
We can start to improve girls’ body confidence by helping girls understand that these images are unrealistic representations of real bodies. Real girls’ and women’s bodies simply don’t look like this!
Embracing diversity of body shapes
The media tends to promote a single body type, creating a false sense of normality. Think of the celebrities on the red carpet, plus actresses in movies or TV: the vast majority have the same body type of being tall, very thin with narrow hips.
It distorts our sense of what is normal…every time we turn on the TV or look at websites, we see this single body shape, over and over. It’s understandable that we can start to feel this is the “normal” shape of bodies.
In reality, only 5% of women have this tall, very thin, narrow hips body shape.
The pressure comes if your daughter compares her own, real body to the images she is seeing over and over.
To counteract this, and improve girls’ body confidence, encourage your daughter to first of all realise what is happening: that so many of the people we see in the media share this one body type. Secondly, to observe the real diversity of body shapes and sizes around her. Real people in the real world – who come in all different shapes and sizes.
Support your daughter to recognise that her body is unique – just like she is.
Focusing on inner qualities
Guide your daughter towards appreciating her inner qualities, rather than focusing on her appearance. This can really help improve girls’ body confidence.
Encourage her to understand and celebrate that her value is about her personality and attitude, her interests, how she interacts with people and so much more.
You could engage her in activities that help develop her self-awareness and self-acceptance.
For example in the online confidence-building classes I run with girls, I ask them to consider they are given a box for their birthdays, opening it up to reveal a striking necklace, which they enjoy and appreciate. But what did they think of the box it came in? Not a lot. Because it’s what’s inside that truly matters – the person within.
Improving girls body confidence is such a key topic. In this article I’ve shared three strategies for parents to support their daughters to improve improve girls’ body confidence. In the first place looking at challenging unrealistic ideals, then embracing diversity of body shapes before crucially focusing on inner qualities. I hope you’ve found this article useful for your chats with your daughter.