You are your looks.
Your appearance and ‘hotness’ is what matters most.
Your power comes from displaying your body, and the more displayed the better. If you got it, flaunt it.
These and other myths about beauty and the standards that girls and women are supposed to reach for have been determined historically by social, economic, political, and cultural imperatives. And in the last 100 years, beauty ideals have been created and perpetuated by advertisers and businesses to increase consumption, spending, and profits. And they have been incredibly effective in catering to adolescent girl’s insecurities about their changing bodies and how they compare to their peers. Industries grew up around the care of acne, cosmetics, dieting, working out, fashion, and cosmetic surgery.
Parents have a huge responsibility to educate their daughters about the costs of these myths and unrealistic standards. They need to teach girls that they possess so much more capitol than their looks, and to focus more on internal qualities and characteristics. How can parents accomplish this?
First, we can all do a better job of not over-emphasizing looks, appearance, and clothes. When you greet a girl, catch yourself before you immediately talk about how cute she and her outfit are. We never do that with boys. Focus instead on non-physical qualities like: problem-solving, character, resilience, determination, critical thinking, athleticism, focus, talents, strengths, passion, sense of justice and fairness, integrity, compassion, and dedication. Acknowledge girls when you see them exhibit these qualities and when they live them out in their lives. Point out these features in other girls and women in books, TV shows, movies, and in their female relatives.
Discuss girl’s bodies in terms of endurance, athleticism, strength, flexibility, and being in shape. Encourage girls to be involved in sports so that they are using their bodies for a higher level purpose than looking good. Moms must be very aware that they are not displaying a lot of negative self-talk about their own bodies, because their daughters are listening and learning so much from their example. Model good nutrition, exercise, and self-acceptance.
Help girls become aware of the unrealistic standards the culture is selling, and to question every image they see. And teach them to define themselves from the inside-out, so that they learn to value their brains, character, values, accomplishments, and purpose most highly.