Have you ever wished you knew how to make a girl feel beautiful? When you see your daughter silently criticizing her appearance what do you do? When girls are tweens, and even earlier, I get questions from parents all the time about this. You want to help your daughter reject the harmful stereotype of physical appearance that our popular culture and systems of sexist oppression call Beauty.
My advice on how to help your daughter may surprise you. I think the best approach is to talk openly with and around your daughter about beauty. Don’t avoid the topic or the word. Ask your girl and she will tell you in her own way how this word takes up a lot of space in her world, sparking self-doubt, jealousy, and insecurity.
Olivia, 14, says, “Why are we girls and women constantly put down because of our looks? The ads and media girls see are overwhelmingly filled with images of skinny, heavily made-up, light-skinned girls and women. Is it really better to have big breasts, “perfect” makeup, and waists that are SUPER skinny? We don’t have to keep feeling bad because we’re not “pretty enough”!
A Tough Conversation for Women
Many women feel insecure about our own appearance. And that makes it doubly hard to help girls with the huge appearance pressures they face every day. But avoiding the words leaves a huge pink elephant in the middle of the room. Even worse, your daughter feels abandoned and vulnerable in trying to handle this on her own. Because make no mistake, she will have to handle beauty pressure sooner or later. I feel it’s better for you to be her honest and supportive ally by teaching her how to resist the #BeautyBeast.
Is it possible for you to make a girl feel beautiful? Is it a good idea to even try? I say yes, as long as you’re talking about the beauty of being true to herself.
To help girls, every May New Moon Girls magazine puts out a new special issue that highlights the infinite, diverse ways girls are beautiful by being true to themselves. Girls always love this issue and feel inspired to recognize and own their unique true-to-myself beauty. These special magazines also give you the chance to support the girls you love by listening and supporting them in being themselves when it’s not easy.
Writing Seven Beauty Statements
This is an amazing thing you and your daughter can do together. Each of you write seven different Beauty Statements about yourself that aren’t about appearance. Next, write seven more Beauty Statements about each other. Then share them all and see what comes up in the conversation. Each of you use your seven Beauty Statements to make your own Inner Beauty Mirror. You can make a video of yourself saying the statements into the camera. Or you can make a big poster with your statements on it. Use your personal Inner Beauty Mirror every day for a month – watching the video, reading the poster aloud.
Madeleine, 13, says, “It was really hard to find seven beauty statements about myself because you are taught not to brag about those things. I was stuck for the longest time trying to think of good things about myself. So instead I thought of things that friends complimented me on, and also what I admired about them. She found that using her Inner Beauty Mirror every day, “Started pounding the words into my brain. I began to think, “Oh yeah, these things really are true.” Repeating the words over and over made them seem real. It made me really believe in myself.
“The inner beauty mirror is a lot nicer than a regular mirror because it shows what is really important about yourself. A regular mirror can deceive you because it only shows the outside when everyone knows it’s the inside that counts. When you look inside there is no fakeness, no falseness, no hidden identity. Just you. Like Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true.”
Madeleine’s Seven Beauty Statements
- I am beautiful because if you are sad, I will listen, and give you a hug and a suggestion.
- I am beautiful because I volunteer my time at the library.
- I am beautiful because I like to create crafts (beads, purses, etc.) and give them to friends.
- I am beautiful because I like to take care of little kids.
- I am beautiful because I like to cook for my family.
- I am beautiful because when I didn’t make the musical twice, I kept trying and finally got in.
- I am beautiful because I am me!
Spark valuable conversations about the beauty of being true to yourself. Brainstorm together about how to talk back to your mirror and to the popular culture who don’t want us to feel happy with our unique selves. It’s a crucial topic for girls because of the powerful pressures on them. They need our support and guidance to build and believe in a definition of beauty that includes them and who they truly are.