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How I Spent Last Weekend Committing to Reducing Beauty Anxiety in My Daughter

Last month I told you guys all about Dove’s upcoming self-esteem weekend. Well, it happened last weekend – did you join in?  In preparation of the big event, there were, and still are, some phenomenal resources available for moms of girls aged 8-18.

I’m talking seriously useful stuff – not just feel good fluff – here’s what Dr. Nancy Etcoff, Harvard University, Director of Program in Aesthetics and Well Being and author of ‘Survival of the Prettiest, the Science of Beauty’ had to say about them:

Today, young people are growing up surrounded by increasingly unattainable beauty standards. Innovative materials like these offer adults the chance to be positive role models, and to make a significant positive impact on the self‑image of young people when they need it most. This Activity Guide provides an impressive combination of fun exercises and communication tools that encourage conversation on an exceedingly difficult subject: body confidence and self‑esteem.

Clearly my point here is the resources are excellent and I HIGHLY recommend checking them out. But what about moms, like me, of younger girls?  Girls that don’t yet have an inkling of the body confidence pitfalls that potentially await them?

Today I’d like to share with you how I spent last weekend in an effort to commit to reducing beauty anxiety in my daughter before it even has a chance to start.

Let me start by saying that, no, this particular exercise did not take up all of my weekend, or even a large junk of it. But I truly feel that committing even a small amount of time to a little research on the topic can make a world of difference. So here’s what I did…

I started by checking out those resources and toolkit I told you about.  I thought it was really handy how the 1-on-1 activities, as well as the self-esteem activity and discussion guides were broken down by age group.  I decided to take a look at the Self-Esteem Activity Guide for Mothers & Daughters Aged 8-11 because that was the closest age range to my 2 year old.

Once I started reading, I realized there really are things I can do now to affect how my daughter views her body down the road – and they all start with me.

A section titled The Importance of Moms reads:

A mom is one of the most important influences in her daughter’s life. Long before peer pressure has kicked in, a mother’s love and caring sets the foundations for her daughter’s life. Who you are will profoundly affect who your daughter is and can be. Your attitudes and behaviors towards her, and the way you act, are like a script from which she will make choices in her life.

My interpretation – I’ve got a lot of responsibility here so there’s not time to waste in preparing for this momentous role!

Another section, Mothers as Role Models, says:

We need to realize that when we make negative comments about our own bodies or criticize our own eating, these are picked up by our daughters. If we:

• Sigh when we look in the mirror
• Or routinely say we shouldn’t be eating this
• Or how we need to diet more strenuously
• Or if we complain that ‘if only’ we had a different nose/hair/eyes/hips

…then our daughters will believe it’s natural for a girl to be critical of, and unhappy with, her own body.

And that’s when I stopped reading and started making the pretty little graphic at the top of this post. It’s actually a quote from another section of the guide elaborating on how moms can create better feelings about their own body.

My hope is that you guys will pin it and share it with your mom friends.  Or go even further, write the message on a real post-it and stick it on your mirror.  Whatever it takes to get us all to give ourselves a break about our, somewhat, battle-worn bodies. For our own sake as well as the sake of our daughters.

The moral of this story is that it doesn’t take much to make a real and positive impact on your daughter: just a little bit of intention.  I truly hope you will take a little time today to think about how you talk about your own body in front of your daughter and to commit to making a change if necessary.

Ok – deep exhale – stepping down from the soapbox now, thanks for listening. See you back here tomorrow for a special guest post from one of my very favorite bloggers!

*This post was written as part of a paid partnership with DOVE.  All opinions are my own.


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