DAUGHTER’S, BODY IMAGE AND SELF-ESTEEM
Having a young daughter makes me worry. How’s my daughter going to make sense of this strange world? Will she succumb to the pressure young girls often feel to look a certain way so they can be thought of as attractive, popular and successful? Subtle and blatant ‘messages’ bombarded at them from dawn until dusk (that is unless you live on a remote outback farm with no internet, tv etc, or North Korea).
I look into my crystal ball, it’s 2026, we’re all going around on hoover-boards, Rose is 15, wears all black clothing with Doctor Martins boots. She’s deeply into social media (or whatever the future equivalent is), is worried about her weight, clothes and looks. Various boys are starting to hang around her. I was a teenage boy once (a very bad one at that), to think of them chasing my daughter gives me the shivers. I digress, the worry is at this time in her life her body image and self-esteem are going to cause her some degree of misery.
What made me worry about her teenage self today was hearing a radio report talking about the former Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington and whilst appearing on the reality show ‘I’m a celebrity’ she broke down in tears.
This happened after showering next to a young girl who was a model. She revealed that she felt insecure about her body next to someone who ” is stick thin, she’s got these push-up bras that make her boobs seem massive. She’s stunning.” After the show she talked about how she’d received loads of abuse via twitter about her looks.
This young girl is a 4 times Olympic medal winner for goodness sake, in my books that’s about as high an achievement as you can get. When a superhuman young women who’s achieved the highest accolade in the world isn’t confident with her own body image and gets abuse about her looks, what hope’s there for our daughters?
We can tell our kids ‘beauty is on the inside’ but we all know that’s no help to a teenager feeling rubbish about themself.
As a concerned dad I can educate my daughter to a variety of life’s mysteries and cultural values. I can teach her not to follow the crowd, to read lots of books, listen to good music, understand what’s going on in the world. I can tell her not to get hung up on superficial things. But this is easier said than understood by a teenager. Being a dad, they’re many things I won’t be able to teach.
Hopefully I’m worrying over nothing, getting ahead of myself in future fear and unnecessary premonitions. In ten years time perhaps things would’ve changed. Pressure to look a certain way and self-image insecurity is a thing of the past. Young girls now look up to artists, politicians, scientists and philosophers rather than orange wags and reality tv types.
By then lets hope It’s hip to be square.