Resisting the pressure to conform
When our girls are little, it’s easy to encourage their personal style because everything they wear is somehow a crowd-pleasing combination of sweet and sassy. But when the adorably feisty 5-year-old who dressed in a tutu and astronaut helmet becomes older, beauty anxieties come to the fore and any standout, spirited fashion-statement may be frowned upon socially. The pressure on girls to conform to please peers, parents, and boys can become incredibly intense.
“Parents must understand that this generation of girls is facing unprecedented pressure from peers and marketers,” says Rachel SimmonsOpens in new window🔗, best-selling author of Odd Girl Out and co-founder of Girls Leadership Institute.Opens in new window🔗 “[These] are powerful forces that push [girls] to want to fit in.”
How can parents help girls strike the balance between managing the pressure to fit in and the desire to pursue a unique personal style?
Trend-following versus personal style
Playing with trends can be fun. But when girls copy a look because their friends wear it (or the fashion and beauty pages dictate it), they may be “on trend” – but that’s not the same as having their own style.
“Girls often say they like to express themselves and be unique,” says Alison Deyette🔗, TV host, stylist, and lifestyle expert, “but when they actually stand with their friends, they all look the same”. She explains that girls often blindly follow fashion rather than learning how to incorporate aspects of a trend into their own signature look.
Encourage your daughter to wear clothes that flatter her body and reflect her individual personality, then thread elements of a trend into that look. (For example leopard-print shoes or accessories, if a leopard-print outfit isn’t “her”.) Helping her learn how to work fashion and beauty trends to her own advantage will boost her body confidence and encourage her to appreciate her individuality.
Value her opinion on personal styling
It’s important to reinforce your daughter’s efforts to cultivate her sense of style and self-expression. Show that you value her opinion by asking for her feedback on your own fashion choices. Go through her wardrobe together to see what items both flatter her and reflect her personal style, then do the same for your own clothes, asking your daughter to honestly assess your current look. Go shopping together and support one another in making discerning choices about what looks and feels fantastic.
Unique style spotting
Make a game of noticing women (and men) who have fabulous style. Discuss how those people’s fashion and beauty choices communicate a message about who they are. Once your daughter sees real people being unique and having fun with fashion, dressing to please her peers might lose its allure.