With social media, television and the accessibility of the internet children are exposed to what is considered beautiful very early in life. Often, although we may not realise it we reinforce these standards of beauty when we tell a little girl ‘oh you are so cute’ or ‘you look beautiful in that dress’ or even when we tell a little boy what a ‘handsome young man he is’. As we make each of these statements we indicate, unconsciously to these children that we value them for their looks and that their looks are something worthy of praise. While we are not saying that you should stop telling children that they are beautiful (body positivity is important and everyone is beautiful), it is important to ensure that they are made to understand that their self-worth is not solely dependent on their looks.
With so many unrealistic expectations placed on the human body based on what the socially prescribed ‘ideal’ might be, it is no wonder that many of us, especially kids who do not fit that ideal, deal with self-esteem issues. What parents need to explain to kids is that, there is no ideal or one true way that they are meant to look. They are beautiful as they are. However, keep in mind that societal pressure and peer pressure will ask them to conform and make them want to conform and that wearing makeup and wanting to wear the latest fashions is not all bad. The problem arises when you see 13 year olds requesting for facial fillers and laser skin resurfacing treatments for their birthday presents.
While laser skin resurfacing treatment can help cover acne scars, the problem arises when these suitable treatments become the norm.
Makeup is okay
Teach your daughters that wearing some make up to enhance her features is fine – if it gives her confidence and makes her feel comfortable, But, also teach her that she should not have to use make up to feel beautiful. Explain to her and help herself see herself as beautiful as she is. The easiest way to do this is to set an example yourself.
Set an example
Kids pick up on everything adults say. If you are constantly criticising yourself and how you look your kids will follow suit and become obsessed with their looks. Instead praise them for having their father’s eyes, grandma’s smile and for their liveliness of spirit and active mind. Shower them with complements that show them how capable they are and that allow them to measure and value their worth in terms of what they can do and who they are as opposed to how they look.