A Daughter’s Self Esteem and Positive Body Image

A Daughter’s Self Esteem and Positive Body Image

We have two girls ages.  I have witnessed them not care about what others think to pivoting and be self-critical. Why the shift? Social media, TV, peer pressure, etc.

I was sitting at the dinner table one night and I looked at my youngest.  Something just looked different.  She finally said, “Momma, what are you looking at?”  I said, “Something is different.  It’s not your hair. Are you wearing makeup?”  She insisted she wasn’t.  Still, I couldn’t figure it out.  Then my eldest said, “Mom, it’s her eyebrows.”  How could I have missed that? I thought.  She used an eyebrow pencil to “sketch” eyebrows on her forehead because she is so light-skinned and it looks like she doesn’t have any.  She is completely self-conscious about them. I asked her one day why she does it.  She shrugged and didn’t know, just that everyone else has dark eyebrows and she doesn’t. 

Young girls get bombarded with mixed messages from everywhere that can make it hard for them to feel good about their appearance.  Here are some practical ways to help your daughter develop healthy self-esteem about her appearance.

Managing Media Messages

1. Establish limits. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting TV time to two hours a day or less. Be selective about the shows your family watches, instead of leaving the set on all the time. You’ll reduce some of the media influences on your kids and free up time for more productive activities.

2. Discuss media portrayals of women. Watch TV with your kids. Talk about whether your favorite actress represents a realistic image of female beauty. Compare celebrities who look natural with those who’ve had radical cosmetic surgery.

3. Present diverse images of beauty. Not all beautiful women are thin and blonde. Rent a batch of foreign movies to show your kids different perspectives from other cultures. Check out paintings online by artists like Reubens and Courbet, who preferred full figure models.

4. Encourage your daughter’s interest in a wide range of subjects. Help your daughter supplement her interests in fashion and beauty with additional academic and cultural activities. Music lessons or foreign language classes will enrich her life and let her feel more accomplished.

Clothing Guidelines

1. Avoid sexy apparel for young children. Steer clear of racy clothing being marketed for children and pre-teens. Let your daughter enjoy her youth free from preying eyes.

2. Enforce dress codes for teens. It’s natural for teens to want to dress like their peers, but parents can still provide guidelines on what’s acceptable. Keep your discussions respectful while clarifying the difference between positive and negative attention.

3. Shop for clothes that flatter your daughter’s best features. Applaud your daughter’s efforts to find her own personal style. Help her select outfits that work with her body type.

4. Talk with your daughter about buying her first bra. The first bra is a milestone in every girl’s life. If she’s uncomfortable mentioning it, be ready to bring the subject up yourself whenever her body begins to develop. Your openness can help her adjust to her changing body.

Additional Suggestions

1. Support your daughter in maintaining a healthy weight. Approach any weight issues with sensitivity. Let your daughter know that her health and well being is your top priority. Volunteer to join her if she wants to join a gym.

2. Compliment her inner qualities. Girls can feel pressured to value themselves based mainly on their appearance. Help her find more balance by focusing on her internal strengths, from being a good friend to mastering algebra.

3. Monitor her participation in sports. Sports are often a constructive outlet but play it safe. I love coaching girls basketball (as shown here in the post with my daughter Sarah). Ensure coaches stress positive messages. This is my favorite role even more than coaching the game itself.  I simply want to inspire these kids.  Your daughter needs to enjoy herself without any excessive demands.

4. Demonstrate a positive attitude towards all women. Your efforts will be more effective and credible if you have a respectful outlook concerning women in general. Try to avoid making disparaging remarks about family members or celebrities. Even if your comment seems trivial, teens and pre-teens can be very sensitive to the attitudes of their parents.

5. Seek professional help. Most girls learn to accept their maturing bodies, but serious issues may require professional counseling. If your daughter shows signs of an eating disorder, consult your family physician or a counselor who specializes in working with children and adolescents. Help is available.

With your guidance and support, your daughter can develop healthy self-esteem and learn to love the way she looks.

Keep the lines of communication open and focus on her inner beauty.


Peace and Blessings,
Dawn Hurlebaus