Exercises and tips from Things Will Be Different for My Daughter; A Practical Guide to Building Her Self-Esteem and Self-Reliance, by Mindy Bingham & Susan Stryker with Susan Allstetter Neufeldt PhD., Penguin Books.

Your daughter will inevitably be exposed to cultural values and peer pressure regarding her appearance, but as her mom you still wield a great deal of influence. Your works and actions can go far to build her self-esteem—or tear it down. Here are some additional do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when dealing with fragile young egos. By showing an interest in your daughter’s general self-esteem, you’ve already taken an important step. The better she feels about herself overall, the less vulnerable she’ll be to peer pressure or media-imposed images of what constitutes female beauty.

1. Never criticize or make jokes about her face or body or any portion thereof.

" I once told my mother I thought I had nice hands. She told me that vanity is a sin. That might have been okay if I was some lovely young thing who was always lounging around admiring herself, but I’d already been told that just about every other part of my body was unacceptable. I was left with nothing."

2. Take every opportunity to give honest praise.

Saying she has beautiful skin when she can see for herself that she has acne will only make her mistrust you.

3. Mothers, don’t obsess about your own appearance.

Your daughter is likely to follow your example….

4. Warn your partner or husband not to treat women like objects.

Ditto above, and, she’ll see her fate.

5. Don’t criticize other women’s appearance or disparage them because of the way they look.

You’d be reinforcing the message that women count only if they live up to society’s standard of "beauty." If a woman is attractive, comment on other aspects of her personality. Too often we find it impossible to say anything about a woman without mentioning the way she looks. We don’t have the same problem when talking about men.

6. Compliment other women on their talents and achievements.

Look for attractive qualities in those who aren’t obviously beautiful, and point them out to your daughter: "She has such a terrific laugh! I bet people just love being around her."

7. Don’t compare your daughter’s appearance with that of other girls or young women.

8. Expose your daughter to women of various ages and appearances who are comfortable with the way they look.

9. Mothers, don’t "compete" with other women.

Be accepting of them, and of yourself, no matter where you think you rank on the beauty, personality, and ability scale.

10. Point out how the beauty industry profits by making all women feel insecure about their looks.

Look more closely at the ads for beauty products and the way magazine articles instruct women in their appearance. There is no such category as "just right" with these folks. Your skin is either dry, oily, or combination. Eyes are either too close together or too far apart, noses are too long, too short—do you see a pattern forming?

11. Start when your daughter is young to emphasize the fun and fanciful aspects of appearance.

Encourage her to think of clothes as a means to help her express her many-sided personality rather than camouflage for her figure "flaws" or portable prisons to restrict her movement. Get her face painted at community fairs and revel in her multiple images. Create elaborate "hairdos" out of shampoo at bath time. Be imaginative and enthusiastic about Halloween costumes. The "beauty police" lose much of their poser when you turn their own weapons against them.

12. Show your pride in your daughter’s appearance in concrete ways.

Take photos of her often, and display them around your house and office. Send them to relatives. Show them to friends and co-workers.

13. Don’t use the clichéd statements about appearance that we all grew up with.

 

 

 

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