Help your daughter uncover her inner beauty
In a world where appearances sometimes seem to matter more than anything else, it's important to redress the balance. We've put together an action checklist to help shift your daughter's attention from how she looks on the outside, to what an amazing person she is on the inside.
Appreciating your daughter's outer beauty is important, but so is valuing the other traits that make her special. Help her realise we have many qualities beyond our appearance, and that measuring our worth by comparing looks, can have a negative impact on ourselves and others.
Your daughter's beauty is more than skin deep
It's considered normal to compliment girls on their looks. We meet a little girl and say: "What a pretty dress!" or greet our friends with: "You look great, have you lost weight?"
While we may genuinely mean our compliments, we're inadvertently reinforcing the importance of good looks. We're also missing an opportunity to reinforce other things we value in females.
Focusing on inner beauty doesn't mean you can never talk about appearance again, but praising the things you appreciate in your daughter, and in other people, that are not appearance-related, will help her appreciate the value of those as well.
Give a compliment to give her inner confidence
"We try to compliment and praise our two daughters regularly to help them build their confidence and self-esteem,"" says mum Gill. "We say nice things about how they look, but we try to praise their intelligence, good schoolwork and helpfulness more."
Self-esteem expert Dr Christina Berton says, "By praising your daughter and focusing on her actions and positive behaviour, you will help her to recognise and value her qualities and see herself in a more positive light. Strengthening the overall confidence of our girls, as mothers, is what we all strive for."
Focus on who people are, not how they look
Recognising there's more to beauty than the way we look is vital in becoming body confident. By learning to appreciate other people's attributes and qualities, your daughter will begin to see beyond her own appearance and start to like all sorts of other things about herself.
"Encouraging her to think about other people’s attributes will help her to see that there’s lots more to admire beyond how we look, and will help her to value more about herself than her appearance," says Dr Berton.
Ensuring your daughter has a range of role models who inspire her for more than their looks, is important in helping her reach her full potential. It's normal to have beauty icons, but encourage her to find beauty in a diverse range of people.
It can be helpful to think about your own view here. Who are your icons, and how are you expressing your own aspirations in front of your daughter?
To protect privacy we've changed the names of people whose stories we tell on these pages, but the stories are genuine.
Start by looking at your own role models
Focus on why you admire people for things other than their looks, from friends and family to celebrities and media figures
Make a positive list
Write down the qualities you admire in one another, which aren't related to appearance. Remind yourself of them when you need a boost, and do the same for her
Apply it to yourself
What do you value in yourself beyond your looks? Do you talk openly about how proud you are of the things you do at work, for example, and how hard you work to achieve them?
Now apply it to your daughter
Telling your daughter the ways in which you value her, and the things about her you're proud of is key. She might say those things don't count, and all she cares about is the way she looks, but it can still penetrate
When you offer praise, give examples. Saying "I'm impressed with how much effort you put into your English essay" sounds more meaningful than "you're a really hard worker"
Ask her about her role models
Get her to identify what she admires about others, from her friends and relatives to celebrities. Ask her, "If you were XX what would you be most proud of?" If she gives you answers relating to appearance, try adding "and how about putting looks aside?"
Think beyond beauty
When talking about women, whether you admire them or not, give reasons that don't relate to appearance. If you're watching TV or reading the paper and notice someone inspiring, mention them in conversation
- Explore the The Real Me video and activities with your daughter
- Ask her why she thinks the focus is so often on how a woman looks? What does she hope people will notice about her apart from her appearance?
- Encourage your daughter to have the same kind of conversation with her friends. Maybe they could set up a 'things I like about you' online group and post encouraging messages and thoughts?