Now, more than ever, we live in a body image obsessed world. Just look at Instagram, Tik-Tok and other visually-based applications that have teenagers trying to outdo each other in the looks category. No doubt it’s not good for our children, especially daughters, to be constantly exposed to messages that make them feel constantly inadequate. In fact studies have also shown that by age six, girls especially start to express concerns about their weight or shape, with 50 percent of girls ages 6-12 afraid of becoming too fat.
As parents, it’s up to us to try to counteract this messaging by serving as positive role models, both in our real lives and in the lives we portray on social media. Here are three ways to lead by example.
1. Talk positively about your body and watch self-criticism. Think for a moment about the way you talk about yourself and others. It’s pretty simple: When you verbally criticize yourself, your body or your appearance, you’ll sending a message to those around you that’s OK to speak poorly of yourself. Do you really want your daughter to pick up this bad habit? If not, it’s time to keep an eye on how you talk about yourself in front of others.
2. Give praise for qualities other than physical appearance. We all want to look attractive, but when we give compliments solely based on looks, we are discounting someone’s intelligence, courage, creativity or strength. In reality we should recognize these traits more than beauty.
3. Establish other positive role models. The media tends to put beauty people on a pedestal. Think outside of the box to look for empowering role models who are adding to society. There are plenty of women out there who exhibit qualities like intellect, courage and contribution to society. That’s what makes someone beautiful after all. Beauty fades but virtues last.