Appearance ideals have always been unrealistic, but never before have kids been able to dip into such a deep well of judgment and criticism so easily. In fact, body dissatisfaction appears to be on the rise in the U.S. According to a study by the Keep it Real Campaign, 80 percent of 10-year-old American girls have been on a diet. Examples of negative teen body image are all over the Web. In YouTube videos, kids ask an Internet audience to tell them if they’re pretty or ugly. They rate each other on Instagram. They bare themselves and beg for feedback on formspring.me. They edit their selfies and drink in advice about how to improve their online image. – TODAY contributor Caroline Knorr
We are living in a crazy time. A time where it has become normal for preteens to wear high heels and make up. A time where it’s considered natural for girls to be aware of their bodies at such a young age and start to control what they eat. Obsessively. A time where talking about boys at the age on ten has become the norm and where stuffing socks in your training bra is what happens at sleepovers.
A time where little girls are told through the media that they need to look a certain way, act a certain way, wear sexy revealing clothing and cover their face in foundation and lipstick, just to be noticed. Just to be loved and accepted.
What happened to innocence? What happened to My little Pony and Forrest family marathons where you would get lost in your own world for hours before dinner time? What happened to little girls being little girls?
The first time I even had so much as a thought about a boy was when I was 13 going on 14. Before that I was daydreaming about ballet or singing to my soft toys. Call me naÃ¯ve, but that’s exactly how it should be. Boy have things changes in the last 20 years.
What is the world and society teaching our precious children about self acceptance, inner beauty and god forbid, intelligence? How has looking hot become more important than spiritual growth and intelligence? More important than a good degree or job ambition? When for crying out load did a girls value start being based of the size of her waist and the fullness of her lips?
Girls are being taught that these things matter more than dedication to your schoolwork, that if you’re pretty enough you will get by solely on that. So they spend hours striving to be perfect, comparing themselves to models in magazines and the popular girls at school. Their potential to change the world and make a difference gets put on the back burner as they prioritize looks over kindness and brains.
And the saddest part is that sometimes this sort of behaviour is encouraged by moms! Im not even sure if its popular here in SA but in the States (especially the southern States) its pretty big. I really struggle to understand how this is encouraged when we live in such a over sexualised culture to begin with.
Is it not the most heartbreaking thing to know that these are the issues the young girls of our generation are being faced with? That so many young girls are feeling pressure to conform and losing themselves along the way?
The question is how do parents protect their children from it without being overly protective and pushing them further away? Here are some great tactics I found in this article. Some of them I’m sure you will find very helpful, if you are not doing most of them already!
It may be strange that I would even write about something like this. I mean, I don’t even have girls to worry about. But here’s the thing, I still dream I may someday have a little girl whose hair I will braid and whose ribbons would need sewing onto her ballet shoes. I still dream of a teenage daughter lying next to me on the bed telling me about whats going on in her life.
I may not even begin to know the challenges that come with raising girls but it still is something that bothers me more than you would think.
And even if I don’t ever have that little cherub I have envisioned in my head, I have nieces and I cant help but feel a sense of protectiveness over them in this regard. I often joke with their mom that she has a lot more worrying to do than I ever will. I didn’t realize though how true it really is.
The challenges faced with raising girls are many and I’m sure the emotional intensity that much stronger. I salute the moms reading this who everyday are having to put on their ‘wisdom hats’ and guide their little girls through some very real pressures. I take my hat off to those of you who have insisted they stay young and act their ages and refused to give in to the modern-day pressures of society. I commend you all for doing your best to protect their innocence and encourage their youth.
I pray that if I ever have a little girl that I will be reminded of this and teach her the value of self-love and acceptance and that she would know that she is loved exactly how she is.
* A disclaimer i would like to add is that this article is no way against fun dress up type play or the gradual introduction to lip gloss and jewellery at a mom’s personal discretion. If you know your child, you will know what she is ready for and what she can handle. I’m also not judging anyone if they have in fact entered their child in a beauty pageant. Heck my mom entered me in a couple back in the 80’s and i turned out ok with a pretty good self esteem. I just don’t think they are a healthy starting point when trying to teach your girls about true value. And especially when they transform you from a 5 year old to an 18 year old!