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My Daughter Suffers from High Self-Esteem

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Guest blogger Selena: It's a problem. My 6-year-old thinks -- no, knows -- that she's the bees knees. Recently she put on a dress that she had been given as a birthday present (a pink, frilly thing) and announced, "Mommy, come look at me. I look like a model!" And then the other night, as my husband and were in the kitchen, she overheard me commenting on how "gorgeous" something looked in a cooking magazine (What was it? A chicken pot pie?), and then we heard from the next room: "Are you guys talking about me?" Uh oh ....

girl smiling
Right now she doesn't compare her beauty to that of real models, but it won't be long before she does. When she's a young woman (a tween, even!), the images in the magazines she will compare herself to may give her a more realistic perception to her looks: that she most definitely is not a model, nor does she remotely look like one. How could she? Not even models look like models before their images have been Photoshopped to death. 

I found a YouTube video by Dove that says we should "get to our girls" before the beauty industry does, because by the time they're a certain age, they will have been bombarded (both subconsciously and directly) with images depicting our society's "ideal" of what beauty is: tall, too-thin women with impossibly pouty smiles, high cheekbones, widely spaced eyes, clear skin, perfect breasts and an overall symmetrical appearance. Dove also produced a time-elapsed video that illustrates what happens from the time a model sits in the hair-and-makeup chair to the moment her photo is put on a billboard. The photos looked perfectly fine to me, even before a Photoshop expert lengthened the model's neck, thickened her hair, whitened her eyes and enlarged and thinned-out her nose. "No wonder our perception of beauty is distorted," the video concludes. I'll say. 

I am afraid that, with all my beauty magazines laying around and all the TV my daughter watches, she has been imprinted with what society thinks it's important to look like. And I guess it hasn't done any good that her father and I have told her (a lot), "You look so pretty ...." It was an honest mistake, but I'm worried that we've damaged her. I don't want her growing up to be one of those vapid, vain women who think the most important thing in life is being attractive. I want her to accomplish things, to pursue knowledge and broaden her mind by traveling and by helping and being kind to others. 

My magazine subscriptions are being canceled and her TV is being limited, starting today. And from now on, my husband and I will put emphasis on other things besides how nice she looks in a new dress. I'm glad she has high self-esteem, but it needs to be redirected so that it's based on important things. It happens to all of us: Beauty fades, eventually, and we all get to the point where no amount of Photoshopping can make a difference.

next: I Accidentally Tossed My Kid's First Tooth
8 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kristen October 26, 2010, 6:14 AM

We are raising 2 daughters and the BEST decision we have ever made was getting rid of our tv. It’s now been 5yrs:) Our youngest doesn’t even know what it is like to live in a house with tv, instead they live in a house with books, imagination and love. I truly believe that television hurts children because it is not monitored or limited.

Kc October 27, 2010, 10:46 AM

You not going to believe this but I have lost all day searching for some articles about this. I wish I knew of this site earlier, it was a fantastic read and really helped me out. Have a good one

Leslie October 27, 2010, 2:19 PM

I couldn’t agree more. I try to teach my children that pretty is not what we are striving to be. Kind, compassionate, brave, inquisitive, joyful… those beat pretty any day.

One of my YouTube favorites.

pharmacy tech November 14, 2010, 3:22 PM

nice post. thanks.

Jose Serapio November 16, 2010, 6:41 PM

regards from CA

grace December 13, 2010, 11:45 AM

Yes!d Yes! Yes! Great stuff!
I think many of us put so much emphasis on overly complimenting our children so they don’t have low self-esteem that we end up creating conceited monsters and end up sounding vain, overly-cnfident and tend to think they are better than everyone else. I think it’s all a balance. We have to be careful we don’t go overboard with compliments but still try to boost self-esteem. It’s not easy, but it’s important. Arrogant little children become even more arrogant adults. TV is the biggest monster in all of this. It shows us how to discriminate and definitely feeds us what we’re supposedly supposed to look like.

Ten Tees January 8, 2011, 9:13 PM

Good info. Enjoyable reading. There is one observation to make about t-shirts.

immigration law  February 10, 2011, 6:52 PM

Of course, what a great website and illuminating posts, I surely will bookmark your site.All the Best!

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