True beauty is never external — it comes from within and radiates out. Our daughters need to know this. Here are some ways we can help them truly understand.
By Julianne Hale
Sit down with your daughter and come up with your own definition of true beauty. Is it a warm smile and a gentle manner? Is it strength and courage? Whatever it is, agree on it together and write it down.
Once you have a clear definition, make sure to catch your daughter in action and recognize it. If she is generous, kind, courageous, helpful, strong, or smart, let her know how beautiful she is at that moment.
Help her set realistic body image expectations. Explain to her that airbrushed photos of scantily-clad models do not represent real women so that she will not internalize those images and believe them to set the bar for what it means to be beautiful.
Teach your daughter to appreciate her body’s strength by participating in team sports, walking, biking, yoga, swimming or running. These activities give her the opportunity to feel the power of strong muscles and a healthy heart and lungs.
Stop to admire anything she might consider a “flaw”— whether it’s freckles, curly hair, or a birthmark. Tell her how beautiful you think these unique parts of her are.
Encourage assertiveness. Let your daughter know that her opinions matter and that she can and should stand up for herself and voice her opinions.
Be specific and truthful in praise. Did your daughter ace her math test? Let her know how proud you are. Did she help her little sister learn to swim? Tell her what a great teacher she is.
Do you tell your daughter that she looks pretty? That’s not a bad thing as long as you offer more praise about her inner character than her outward appearance.
Encourage your daughter to be healthy and make food choices based on what is best for her body without worrying about how it affects her appearance.
Don’t forget to admire your own body too. Even if this is a struggle for you, do it. Believe your words so that your daughter will believe you. The results will be nothing short of beautiful.