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Teaching daughters to love themselves is crucial in their growing up years, because it will affect their self esteem and hence their choices in life.
Loving oneself is a long and sometimes difficult journey. From a young age, girls are bombarded with expectations and ideals for how their hair ought to be, how their skin ought to be, what her body shape must be like, what her legs should be like, so much so that even a girl’s collarbones are sexualized!
In magazines and movies and in singers, everywhere they look they see a specific idea of beauty.
It is no surprise then that girls begin to criticise their bodies as early as 11 or 12 years old. And often parents find themselves in a catch-22 situation.
At one end it’s important to let the child grow and be a part of this rapidly evolving world of beautiful photos, on the other, it is important to shield them from all the false ideas that are perpetuated through them.While we cannot control the kind of media the kids are exposed to, we can do a lot to teach our daughters to love themselves.
Girls learn the most about acceptability and validity from their families. Mothers, sisters, fathers, and everyone around them. How a mother talks about her body is how a girl will learn what is ‘acceptable’ and what is not. She will learn from you what it means to be ‘fat’ or ‘ugly’. She will define those words the way you do.
Talk to your daughters. Be honest with them. Tell them about photoshop, about makeup, about the dozen artists that each actor and Instagram star appoints. Tell them about stretch marks and about chubby thighs. Talk to them so much that if and when they dislike their bodies, they can come to you to feel better.
Young children need a lot of validation. They need to be told if they are doing okay. Validate them. Notice changes in them. While cutting hair may not be a big deal for you, it may be a big deal for your daughter. Treat it as such. Let her first and last point of validation so that she doesn’t need to turn anywhere else for it.
There comes a time in every girl’s life that she wants to look good. She wants to look sexy or hot or pretty. Help her. Let her look her best. Pick out outfits with her. Remind her to look good only for herself. To wear whatever makes her happy and feel comfortable. And, of course, validate that.
Loving oneself is a lifelong practice. There is no way around that. The sooner we can start the journey, the better we become at navigating the same.
Published here earlier.
Image source: pixabay