Why instilling self-esteem in your young lady is a must.

My teenage daughter has a figure to die for. When she wears shorts in the summer, strangers comment on the length of her legs. Her porcelain-like skin provides the
perfect backdrop for her dark hair and eyes. And yet, like many girls her age, she often does not like what she sees in the mirror. She wants foundation to cover the dark
circles under her eyes, the latest product that “in four easy payments” will straighten her hair, and to remove the bump from her nose that makes her profile ‘disgusting.’ When did the self-deprecation begin?

My husband and I have always prided ourselves on teaching beauty from the inside out,
to embrace all parts of ourselves – even the imperfections. When I wonder where we went wrong, I realize that it is not just us but also society that plays a key role in how
our daughter sees herself.

Take TV. Though I try to break the allure of such shows as America’s Next Top Model, she is still drawn to watching seemingly ordinary girls and women transform into supermodels. And even though she is aware that most reality shows are not realistic, she’s bought into the push for breast augmentation, liposuction, collagen in lips, teeth whitening and removal of bumps from noses.

While we do discourage her from watching of these types of programs, I’m also from the school of thought that what is forbidden is far more appealing, so I try to watch them with her and point out their flaws. But I don’t know how much this helps since kids – and
especially teen girls – are vulnerable and taken in by the messages these programs relay. Specifically, that unless you remove all imperfections, you’re not worthy of being noticed.

It’s that message that Brenda Lane Richardson and Elane Rehr address in their book 101 Ways to Help your Daughter Love Her Body. “If your daughter is 13 or older,” they write, “she may enjoy learning that advertisers create commercials that appeal to consumers on a subconscious level. Shampoo commercials don’t just simply promise clean hair. They also suggest that once we use a particular shampoo, we’ll become the life of the party.” The authors suggest that the next time your daughter sees a  commercial telling her how her body should look, she should remind herself that she is
fine exactly as she is.

Children and teens aren’t the only ones who need these reminders — grownups do too, and we need to be mindful of our own media-influenced messages. Do your children see you putting yourself down when you survey yourself in the mirror? Don’t be surprised if they follow suit.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with trying to look and feel your personal best, but there is also nothing wrong with embracing yourself – imperfections and all – and more importantly, modeling to your children that you love yourself.

So, although I may think nostalgically back to those days when I had a figure like my daughter and encourage her to appreciate her lovely self, I am also careful to show her that I’m proud of all the grownup qualities I posses — both inside and out.