How to Help Girls Develop Positive Body Image

Helping Your Daughter Feel Good About Her Body

 

We’re bombarded with constant marketing and advertising messages every day. These messages, and the associated images, portray picture-perfect bodies down to the smallest detail. The popularity of social media sites like Instagram and Facebook only compound the issue, especially for girls.

 

So, how can parents help young women develop a positive body image and the confidence that comes with it? It’s not easy in an age where girls idolize the “Instafamous” personalities they see online, but it can be done.

 

First, deal with your own body image issues

 

Many people carry the weight of a negative body image with them throughout their lives, and that can be true for both genders. However, society certainly places more emphasis on female physical attractiveness, and many mothers unknowingly influence their daughters’ self-esteem because they feel poorly about their own bodies.

 

Regardless of your gender, it’s vital you combat your own body image issues. Pay attention to how you talk about your body and its appearance, because your daughter will notice, and it will influence her own perceptions of herself.

 

Encourage physical activity

 

Bodies are amazing! They can run, jump, play, and so much more. In an age where physical attractiveness is valued above all else, try to place an emphasis on all of the wonderful things our bodies can do.

 

You may need to get more creative as she gets older, but encouraging opportunities to be strong and capable is a huge self-esteem boost for young women.

 

Pay attention to the compliments that are given and received

 

Many of the compliments that young women receive are based on external characteristics. If a girl hears those things her entire life, it’s no wonder self-esteem plummets when she sees perfectly manicured Instagram models.

 

The next time someone tells your daughter, “You’re so pretty,” or similar, it can be helpful to add on other characteristics. You could say, “She’s also intelligent, kind, and funny, too.” For close friends or family members, you might even pull them aside for a respectful conversation about how you’re trying to promote a healthy self-image that’s not only based on appearance.

 

Listen to your daughter’s concerns, and offer empathy

 

Battling our own demons, encouraging physical activity, and being an advocate for your daughter often isn’t enough. You also need to have tough conversations, and truly listen.

 

Ask your daughter what she thinks about her body, and why. When you see a sexualized woman on TV or in a magazine, use it as an opportunity to start a conversation. You might say, “Wow, that photo doesn’t even look real. What do you think?”

 

As you talk more, you may realize that she struggles with disordered eating or other serious disorders. If that’s the case, eating disorder therapy or another form of therapy could prove immensely helpful.

 

In essence, promoting a healthy body image is about helping your daughter celebrate her overall beauty, especially that which radiates from the inside. Try to take the focus off of beauty and sexuality as a core component of her identity, and watch as confidence in her own self-worth rises.

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