I try on clothes before the conference, sucking in tummy, turning to get a side view. “What do you think?” I ask him in a hesitant, unsure tone. He smiles. I let out a grumble and head back to my closet.
My 3 year old is trying on my shoes and my 10 year old is looking in the mirror, checking our her side view.
I struggle to esteem myself. I don’t think I’m ugly, but sometimes when I see myself in a photograph, I’m surprised that I look pretty.
But raising daughters is teaching me that if I esteem myself, my girls will too.
Look at these alarming facts:
92% of teen girls would like to change something about the way they look, with body weight ranking the highest.
75% of teenage girls felt ‘depressed, guilty and shameful’ after spending just three minutes leafing through a fashion magazine.
70% of girls ages 15 to 17 avoid normal daily activities such as attending school, going to the doctor, or even giving their opinion “due to feeling badly about one’s looks.”
61% of all women and 69 % of girls (15 to 17) feel that their mother has had a positive influence on their feelings about themselves and their beauty.
Nearly 1/4 would consider undergoing plastic surgery.
Only 2% of women describe themselves as “beautiful”
Not only do women agree that happiness is the primary element making a woman beautiful, but they strongly agree that they themselves feel most beautiful when they are happy and fulfilled in their lives (86%). Women want younger generations of girls and women to inherit this broader concept of beauty, with 82% strongly agreeing that, “If I had a daughter, I would want her to feel beautiful, even if she was not physically attractive.”
While only 19% of teenage girls are “overweight,” 67% think they “need to lose weight” (UK Teen Body Image Survey, January 2004)
National Association for Self-Esteem:
90% of eating disorders are found in girls
Tipping The Scales Of Justice:
A majority of 5-year-olds would rather lose an arm than be fat.
On one hand girls are told to be happy the way they are, and on the other hand, they are given the message that being “overweight” is unhealthy and unattractive.
The more physically active girls are, the greater their self-esteem and the more satisfied they are with their weight, regardless of how much they weigh.
Yet 40% of girls ages 11-17 say they do not play sports because they do not feel skilled or competent and 23% do not think their bodies look good.
Girls’ view physical and emotional health as closely connected. For example, more than 1/3 of girls ages 11–17 reported eating more when they are “stressed out” and overweight girls are more than twice as likely as girls who are not overweight to report eating more in times of stress.
More than 60% of teenage girls skip breakfast at least once a week and nearly 20% skip it every day.
A mother’s weight, body image, attitude, and health habits are strong indicators of whether her daughter is overweight, satisfied with her body, and physically active. Girls look to their mothers for advice on healthy living. A daughter’s dissatisfaction with her weight is greater if her mother is also dissatisfied with her own weight, in spite of how much a daughter actually weighs.
Our daughters are watching us, taking their cues. We want to raise beautiful, healthy, happy, strong girls.
The next time you see your daughter standing at her closet door, fixing her hair for fifth time, lean in and whisper, “YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.”
Then say it to yourself.
Believe it. And she will too.