She watches me put on makeup. Curious eyes, taking in each brush stroke. She’s listening to me talk with friends. Young ears soaking in the words I use to talk about life, myself and the people I know. The eyes and ears of my ten year old daughter.
She’s also listening to her friends at school. Their tween take on the world, their bodies, boys and life. And she’s absorbing what she sees in movies and other media. What will she hear loudest? As school starts up again, I worry, wonder, pray and prepare for all these things my oldest girl and her three younger sisters face when it comes to how they see themselves and their world.
Which is why it’s a joy to welcome today’s guest blogger, Michelle Carlson. We met as we both prepared for the She Speaks conference last month and her energy and enthusiasm for health and wellness is delightfully contagious! I think you’ll love what she has to say about how we encourage our girls in their self-image.
Statistics today state that by age 9 most girls are already experiencing negative body image, and girls as young as 5 years old are on a diet. This begs the question: What is going on??
Young girls have a wide variety of stimuli to choose from when it comes to body image and self esteem. While standing in line at the local grocery store they can gaze upon perfect magazine images all in a row. These images alone can be a lot for a young mind to process, and become a factor in a girl’s self esteem.
We as mothers play a much larger role in our daughters’ self esteem and self image than we may realize. In a world where the pursuit of perfection is the latest endurance sport, we can get caught up in the craziness of it all. We may make comments about friends who have lost weight or the fact that our weight loss efforts are benign. We may ask the all important, “Does this make my butt look big?” everyday. We make comments about our food, jobs, parenting style and often about others as well.
Daughters, from toddlers to teenagers, listen intently to what we say and watch what we focus on.
Now, I realize some might be thinking, “My daughter never listens to a word I say!”. Although that may seem true, I assure you she hears. She may choose not to clean when you tell her to clean, but she hears the degrading comment about a pair of jeans that fit too snug. With every drop of negativity we speak of ourselves, we water small seeds of self doubt within our daughters.
As mothers of girls, it is both a privilege and a full time job to protect their well being and help them cultivate the habit of hope instead of self doubt.
What are some daily habits of hope that help grow godly young women? Here are a few that we can put into practice at any stage in life:
- Develop open communication channels with our daughters. We are first and foremost a mother, not a friend. Our girls need to feel as though they can come to us about the harder things in life. And they know this best when we set the tone with open and honest communication.
- Seek out teaching moments and support those that happen naturally. During the times when life prunes them (they’re struggling with self-doubt, rejection, insecurity or mistakes they’ve made) it can be easy to resort to our human nature and place blame or try to fix situations. Instead, we can try to use these teaching moments to link our girls closer to their Father in heaven.
- Pray fervently over our daughters’ hearts. Pray over the hearts of their future husbands. Pray for divine appointments and interventions throughout their lives. Pray for protection from the enemy’s attempts to discourage them.
- Exemplify God’s never ending love for our daughters as we live our own lives accepting His never ending love for us.
Michelle Carlson is a devoted follower of Christ, and a wife and mother. Michelle battled with negativity and low self esteem for most of her life, eventually facing her demons and losing over one hundred pounds. The result of this was two books on healthy weight loss, Your Guide to Lasting Weight Loss and The Little Fit Book. Michelle is passionate about empowering all women to live their lives to the fullness of their God ordained purpose and make the world a better place for our daughters. Michelle lives in Baytown, Texas and writes about emotional and spiritual health, nutrition, weight loss and body image. Connect with her at her website, and on Twitter and Facebook.
(Image credit: anatols / 123RF Stock Photo)