In the fight for a positive body image, parents might easily feel as if their role in championing their daughters’ self-confidence is negated by the rush of media presented to them on television, in the movies, and in magazines. But the truth is that parents are a daughter’s front line of defense in the body image war. And it’s never too late to learn the best ways to champion your child. These ideas show just some of what we must do to place our girls on the right course. And if you are a woman struggling with these very things yourself, you can champion yourself by translating these ideas for your own needs.
v Help your sister, mentee, child, or friend loosen the grip that their appearance has on them by encouraging them to diversify their interests. Having multiple sources of self-esteem—a job you enjoy, a family you love, friends who care about you, a cause you champion, a hobby that absorbs you, a community you invest in—ultimately leads to a healthier, happier, more confident person.
v Be a positive role model. Show a young woman what a strong, successful, passionate woman looks like, and she can picture that possibility for herself.
v Encourage your daughters and the girls in your life to find a passion at a young age. Encourage their interests, give them the option of exploring those interests and then let them pick something that they can embrace. Developing proficiency boosts a girl’s self confidence and gives her something that she will value in her life far more than the negative choices she might be presented later. Love a sport so much that you want to try out for the Junior Olympics? Well, then, there’s just no time to start drinking, drugging, and doing other things that will drag you down.
v Give a girl a journal to capture what she’s thinking. If she writes down that she just doesn’t want to make a particular choice, it becomes harder for her to make that choice that goes against her soul the next day. Teach, encourage, and celebrate the unique voice and stories she has to share with the world. Owning her experience will keep her from giving that power to someone else.
v Stop the negative self-talk. It sabotages you and those around you who hear it. On your bad days call someone who loves you as you are and bask in the respect they give you. If you don’t have someone like that in your life, perhaps you need to examine why and start looking.
All of us—regardless of what we have suffered through because of our body, our family, our finances, our accents, our attributes— still have had so much entrusted to us. Our ancestors, grandparents, or parents bravely navigated a new land in the name of their futures and the futures of their offspring; in so doing, they paved the lives that we’re living. The body and beauty revolution is ours to begin. It’s time to give ourselves, and the girls and women around us, a wider lens through which to consider our beauty, and who we are beyond our beauty.