We should be teaching girls that beauty isn’t where you shop for clothes or where you buy makeup. But who you are. We should be teaching girls it isn’t about wanting to change your flaws but embrace them. We should be teaching girls about acceptance and not criticism.
But how are we supposed to teach young girls lessons we haven’t even learned ourselves?
Society puts a lot of pressure on everyone to look a certain way. It’s all a numbers game.
Size. Weight. Measurements. Beauty. Restrictions. Calorie consumption.
From an early age, we are weighed in front of our classmates during gym. We are asked for sizes in front of our teammates for uniforms. If girls aren’t judging each other they are judging themselves and social media is making every part of their life a competition.
It’s a generation recording everything on smartphones from what they eat to what workout they do needing validation and acceptance.
We are teaching girls to look at their flaws instead of their attributes striving for perfection that isn’t real.
Comparing themselves to models in magazines. Filtering every picture they post like they have to. Editing everything so heavily.
Defining happiness based on notifications.
Instagram. Facebook. Snapchat. It encourages you to judge people first by appearance or how happy they might be and what they are putting out there. But we get caught up in judging ourselves too wondering why everyone else seems happier than us hiding it and overcome with guilt.
Dating apps where adults are judging one another based on photos alone. This is what we are teaching them that it’s okay to judge people solely on what they look like instead of who they are.
It’s a competition that has only gotten worse with advances in technology.
And we wonder why there’s a higher rate of depression.
‘After scouring several large surveys of teens for clues, I found that all of the possibilities traced back to a major change in teens’ lives: the sudden ascendance of the smartphone.’
This is what we should be telling girls about self-love and actual beauty. And this is how we should be talking to ourselves.
Don’t talk about her body in regards to appearance but rather the wonderful things bodies are capable of doing. Don’t look in the mirror and talk to yourself about what you don’t like. Don’t talk about her weight in regards to what she should lose or gain. Don’t set a goal thinking that’s going to make you happy. Don’t talk to her about what she should change. Teach her as well as yourself to learn to like your flaws.
Don’t use words like skinny. Use words like beautiful and strong. Realize being healthy is what’s it’s about. It’s not about being skinny. It’s teaching her to workout not because she hates herself and wants to change but because it’s wonderful to see what your body can do and working out changes your attitude.
It’s teaching her to eat healthy because what you put into your body is important to your long-term health not just what you look like. It’s teaching her to pursue her favorite sport because there are some things teams can teach you that no one else can.
Don’t compliment her appearance but rather something unique about her. Because what makes her and what makes you beautiful has nothing to do with appearance and everything to do with how she treats people and how she makes them feel about themselves.
Being authentic is beautiful. Being kind is beautiful. Being a good person is beautiful. And those are things you can’t buy in a store.
Teach her what’s attractive about her aren’t her looks but her passion. That she isn’t limited by who she is or what she looks like. That what carries her is going to be her attitude. How she lights up talking about the things she cares about. How she does something she loves every day and as a result, she becomes good at it and people admire her for it.
We need to stop teaching girls they need to change to love themselves because she doesn’t.
If we want to teach our young girls to love and accept themselves we have to set the example of loving who we are not wanting to change.
Confidence is important. Liking the person looking back at you is essential. But I think a lot of us don’t even know how to be good enough for ourselves anymore.
That negative voice inside our head we hear over and over again isn’t actually ours. But we are mimicking something someone said at one point and believe it.
Maybe it was your mother talking about her own flaws. Maybe she projected her insecurities onto you. Maybe someone who was a role model said one wrong thing and that’s what you heard and repeated for years.
How we talk to young girls is so important but how we talk to them is a reflection of how we talk and view ourselves.
So if we want to raise a generation of girls that turn into strong women set that example. Because as much as they deserve to love themselves you do too.