Turn Beauty Inside Out - 5 Dos & Don'ts
New Moon Magazine and Mind on Media recently created Turn Beauty Inside Out Day (TBIO) to abandon the media’s definitions of beauty and celebrate individuality, positive thinking, and adolescent achievement. This important day will be celebrated on the third Wednesday of every May.
Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign found that “forty-two percent of first to third grade girls want to be thinner, while 81 percent of 10-year-olds are afraid of getting fat”. In addition, 11 to 17 year-old girls’ greatest wish is to be thinner. I found these statistics highly disturbing. These kids and teens are at an age where they should be enjoying their youth, but instead they’re already pinching the skin on their tummies and shaking their heads with disapproval.
Where do these ideas come from?
What are these girls being exposed to that’s telling them that they’re less than perfect? Commercials, magazine covers, movies, television shows, and the internet project unrealistic standards of outer beauty onto highly impressionable children. Renee Hobbs states that, "the average teen girl gets about 180 minutes of media exposure daily and only about 10 minutes of parental interaction a day.” That means young girls get more heavily influenced by outside sources than their families.
How can we combat them?
Thankfully, measures are being taken to bring these self-esteem bruisers to a stop. In fact, after the People Magazine published an issue featuring 50 Most Beautiful People, a list full of celebrities and models, the New Moon Magazine responded by showing them what real beauty looks like with their list of 25 Beautiful Girls.
What can you do about it?
Your daughter will naturally pick up your habits as well as your perspective on what is attractive. She hears you when you complain about your weight and wish aloud that you could have another person’s body. Though the media plays a significant role in determining how your children grow to define beauty, you can influence how they interpret those messages.
Here are 5 ways you can help your daughter love herself inside and out!
1. DO be healthy; DON’T be harmful
You hesitantly plant your feet on the scale, glance downwards, and immediately start cursing everything under the sun. Sound familiar? We get it—it happens to so many of us. Just keep in mind that your children will be affected by your actions and attitude. One of the best ways you can help them develop a positive attitude about themselves is by having one about yourself. By setting the best example you can, they’ll be inspired to do the same!
Trying to be healthier? Recite how many calories you've consumed for the day and promise yourself to cut that number in half. Subscribe to weight-loss programs or commit to a healthy diet regimen. If you want your child to develop a healthy attitude towards her body, you must do the same.
It's great to promote diet and exercise in your household, but the way you do it is equally important. Exercise should be fun! Take a Zumba class together or jump rope to her favorite songs. Don't throw weights at her and force her to work out for an hour every day or criticize her body. You can be healthy without harming your daughter's self-esteem.
2. DO reveal; DON’T conceal!
As much as you might like to, you can't keep your daughter from the media forever. But you CAN leverage it in a way that will undermine any potential misconceptions about beauty and body image. The next time your daughter stares in awe at a movie star and says she wants to look just like her, explain to her that actresses with that body type are 98% thinner than regular women. Talk about some of the extreme things they do to themselves to maintain those shapes, including the risk of developing an eating disorder.
Since it’s very easy to idealize celebrities and the way they look, it’s important to always remind your teenager that they are human, have flaws, and are most likely photo-shopped in all of the images she sees in the media. Try showing her some pictures of stars without makeup. Hopefully she won’t be so hard on herself the next time she looks into a mirror.
3. DO jar; DON’T scar
Some families have a Swear Jar to prevent their children from cursing. How about using a Star Jar to discourage your child from talking down on herself? Every time she says something negative, have her write something positive and put it in the jar. These can range anywhere from "I'm funny because I make my friends laugh" to "I'm smart because I got an A on my spelling test".
If you allow her to say hurtful things about herself, without pointing out that they’re wrong, she will begin to think they are true and develop insecurities. The Star Jar will encourage her to reflect on her inner beauty and what makes her special. When the jar is full, have her read all of the notes and then start it all over again! Everyone needs constant reminders of how special they are.
4. DO distract; DON’T detach
Limiting the amount of time your daughter spends browsing the internet or watching TV does not mean cutting her off from the outside world. In fact, if you encourage your daughter to find a hobby, you’ll be promoting the exact opposite! As she masters new skills, she’ll meet new friends and build up some confidence.
She can choose to play an instrument, participate in a sport, join a book club, or do something completely different! No matter what she decides to do, cheer your child on through her failures and compliment her on her successes! When she focuses on her own life, she’ll be too busy to try to live out someone else's.
5. DO embrace; DON’T erase
Help your daughter see that ALL girls are beautiful. Teach her to embrace different body types, colors, and styles. Beauty comes in all different shapes and sizes—no one image is representative. As your daughter continues to grow and find her voice, she will become fearless in her self-expression, both inwardly and outwardly.
Children—both girls and boys—should be shown that true beauty comes from within, not without. Helen Keller couldn’t have said it better: “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched—they must be felt with the heart.” If we teach our children to see beauty in character rather than in outer appearance, we will be able to raise a confident and intelligent society.
So help us recognize and celebrate Turn Beauty Inside Out Day this May!
Edited on 2/4/2020 by Dana Kim.