As parents, we make a lot of statements to our kids. Sometimes they build up, and sometimes they unintentionally tear down. By the time kids get to be teens, there can be communication barriers, due to different interests and other relationship interactions. It can be hard to know how our comments affect our daughters, especially in physical appearance: "Are you going out in that?" "That looks....interesting." Even well-meaning comments can have negative undertones, undermining our efforts to foster positive communication and self-confidence.
I recently had a chance to review Beautiful: Being an Empowered Young Woman. This book encourages teen girls to celebrate their beauty and that of their peers. She covers a variety of relevant topics: social media, peer pressure, drug use, and sexuality. Emphasizing how important words are, the book encourages young women to choose words carefully.
The book is also great for parents, to learn how to talk to girls about sex and drugs, to really listen to what their daughters need, to encourage a positive body image despite all the messages they get elsewhere, and to examine their own insecurities to avoid passing them down to their daughters.
An estimated 75% of girls with low self-esteem engage in negative activities like bullying, cutting and substance abuse, and up to 70% of middle school-aged girls are dissatisfied with one to two aspects of their own bodies, with the time between ages 12 and 15 reported to be the worst. This is a powerful number - the majority of girls aren't feeling positive about their bodies. By teaching our daughters to celebrate their bodies, and that of their peers, we can hopefully end this cycle of negative self-image and create on that promotes healthy choices, physically, mentally, and emotionally, instead of focusing on an image.