I applaud Seventeen magazine for addressing 13-year-old Julia Bluhm's petition to present real girls rather than photoshopped unrealistic images. While Seventeen can take care to avoid making girls look thinner and prettier than they truly are, it is not just magazines contributing to poor self image among girls.
Just yesterday, my nine-year-old daughter came home from camp. She has a crush on a 10-year-old boy who very sweetly told her she was pretty and special. He then went on to say although she is pretty, she is not the prettiest girl. The next day my daughter locked herself in the bathroom for about 10 minutes. When I knocked on the door, she had gotten into my makeup and looked like a raccoon with red lipstick on. Then I noticed her sucking in her belly in front of the mirror. Clearly, this boy's innocent comment had an effect.
My daughter does not even read magazines but the girls on television that are popular are impossibly thin while the heavier girl is either funny or obnoxious. These images trickle into our children's minds and they meanly call other kids fat or tell them they are not pretty. As a parent, how do you build your child's self esteem when it feels the world is trying to destroy it?
Here are some tips that I have found really help girls to be positive and confident:
1. Stay positive Instead of saying you look terrible in blue, say you look great in red.
2. Do not put yourself down If your daughter hears you saying you are fat, she may feel she is fat too especially if you look alike.
3. Spend time without your smart phone Nothing makes a child feel less important than when you are constantly texting, emailing, or on the phone. Set special time aside for your child and put the phone away.
4. Males in the household are not allowed to comment on her appearance Often, brothers, dads, grandfathers and uncles will make little snide comments or tease girls about their appearance which can be mortifying to a young girl.
5. Validate her If your daughter is upset about something, empathize and tell her you understand why she is hurt. Too often we tell our girls not to let things bother them which only makes them feel weak for being upset.
As parents, it is difficult to combat all our children's experiences. But, we can help them by building their self esteem at home so those magazines with the perfect people have a little less influence.