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In elementary school I was convinced I could have it all when I “grew up and got old,” possibly around age sixteen. By the time I had reached Junior High I had begun to worry. My hair would not cooperate to create the latest styles. Was it too long? Why couldn’t I have wavy bangs like everyone else? As I reached high school, my self-esteem was in tatters. Was I pretty enough? Did I have the cool clothing everyone else did? Did I look fat? It wasn’t until I was in college that I began to feel comfortable in my own skin and only recently that I looked back and thought, “Why did I worry about all that? I was pretty. My body looked fine.”
It turns out I am not alone. According to the Real Girls, Real Pressure: A National Report on the State of Self-Esteem, commissioned by the Dove Self Esteem Fund, seven of ten girls feel they do not measure up in some way, whether it be their looks, their school performance, or in relationships with friends and family members. The study also stated that 57% of all girls surveyed had a mother that criticized her own looks. I am certainly guilty of that! I have spent a lot of time over the years, demanding Bryan tell me, “Does this outfit make me look fat?” (Usually with his response being, “No,” without ever looking up from whatever he is doing.) I’ve finally begun to accept myself and my looks, but the process took years. I realized recently I had gone out without makeup and in a t-shirt and yoga pants, something I would never have done in the past. I’d rather my daughter not spend years in self doubt and continuous negative thoughts of her body.
Because parents’ words and actions play a pivotal role fostering positive self-esteem in girls, Dove and Walmart have created a great program to help mother’s and daughter’s connect, The Girls Unstoppable Event, which will be held at Walmart’s around the country this Saturday, October 5th. Click on the link to find a Walmart near you. This event will help encourage girls to embrace their uniqueness. There’s also a Dove Self Esteem discussion guide to help start a conversation with your daughter. I wish I had started a conversation with my daughter years ago, beginning when she was a pre-teen.
Did you have problems with self-esteem when you were in high school? How do you talk to your daughters about the topic?