Boosting Self Esteem in Our Girls

I think as moms of daughters, we try our best to make sure that our girls have a positive body image and feel good about themselves. I remember starting to feel weird about my body at around 13 years old. My boobs were too big, I was too short, my hair was too curly…etc. etc. I knew as teens, girls went through these issues, what I didn’t count on, is that our kids are growing up so much faster these days, and apparently body issues begin at the ripe, old age of … 8!

Last week, my daughter got dressed in her favorite khaki uniform jumper for school. She looked as adorable as ever in it, and after she was done she retreated to her bedroom (I thought) to play with dolls while I made breakfast. When I went to get her, I instead found her in the bathroom examining herself. I asked what she was doing and she told me she was checking to make sure she didn’t look fat. I was floored by her comment because she’s just a little girl and shouldn’t care about that in any way. I asked why she would even say something like that and she said she and her friends talk about that sometimes and it worried her that the dress made her look big. It broke my heart. I wish she could see herself through my eyes because she’s beautiful and perfect and I wish she never had to question that.

Upon further digging, I learned that a few days earlier a boy in her class, who is a nice boy, addressed something she is self conscious about – her arm hair. It’s a tad darker than most kids’ but not noticeable at all. I don’t think this boy meant to hurt her feelings and she has a great circle of friends who defended her and told him that wasn’t nice but I think it made her question her appearance in general and that made me worry.

As a mom of both a boy and a girl, how could I make sure my son never put a girl on the receiving end of negative body image? I tell him all the time to only say nice things to his classmates and to think before he speaks but let’s be honest, at an early age, peer pressure sets in and group mentality is often the norm in a school setting.

I was chatting with a friend who has a pre-teen and said there are boys at her school telling girls in their class to end their lives over superficial crap and that truly frightens me. I decided then and there that building Sawyer’s self esteem, so she isn’t persuaded by such craziness, is the smart approach.

We decided to start a journal together where we write about our day – good and bad – and discuss our thoughts and emotions privately so she doesn’t feel embarrassed. We chat about hair, clothes, what we like and don’t like, and more importantly, how we can care more about deeper things — like her excellence in math and her passion for horseback riding. She is an amazing kid and has a lot to offer this world.

I have had to put aside my own insecurities and be complimentary when saying things about myself too, so she knows you should always love how you look. I mean, I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to some negative self image issues. For some of us that is a result of bullying, for me it was the result of a boyfriend in my younger twenties who was not the nicest when it came to building my self esteem. In fact I had great self esteem and he wrecked it for awhile. I don’t want either of these scenarios to happen to Sawyer. I want her to be strong enough to say, “Screw you, I am great the way I am.” But is that realistic? No girl wants to hear anything bad about her body. And it is damaging, even to the most confident girl.

I’m proud of my daughter for talking to me about this topic, as surprising as it is at this age. I’m proud of her friends for defending her. I think all girls need that. But it leaves me at a loss as to how I can do more to make her teenage years easier. Thoughts? What’s worked for you? I am all ears! I don’t have all the answers.

 

One Comment

  1. MOM August 12, 2016 Reply

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