Parents often ask me how they can help their girls develop healthy self-images. In a media-driven society that sexualizes young women, values beauty above all else, and glorifies virtually unattainable appearances, building body confidence in our young people can feel impossible. However, despite the negative societal forces acting on our girls, we have the power to help them love themselves more. To be successful, we must take a variety of actions including:
- Setting positive examples ourselves – not placing too much value on our appearances and not talking about weight in front of our children.
- Reinforcing the importance of non-physical qualities in our girls – praising good values, wise decision-making, intelligence, etc.
- Facilitating healthy nutritional choices by exposing our girls to healthy foods.
- Educating our girls about how the media can affect self-confidence.
If you’re not sure where to start, numerous resources exist to help you.
Body Image on WomensHealth.gov: A great summary of how you can set an example. Includes a list of action steps to help you get started.
GirlsHealth.Gov for Parents: An extension of WomensHealth.gov, this page contains additional suggestions for setting an example.
American Psychological Association’s Report on the Sexualization of Girls: Provides helpful background on the power of media in girls’ lives. h
KidsHealth.org from Nemours – Eating Disorders Page: A youth-focused overview of eating disorder causes, effects, warning signs, and treatments.
Dove Self Esteem Toolkit and Resources: Tips to help you start meaningful conversations with your daughter.
Building confidence in young women takes a collaborative approach over an extended period of time. It’s worth all the effort to inspire a healthy new generation.
Have any resources to suggest or tips that have worked for you? Please share in the comments.