Why is it that “the latest look” for women’s bodies often looks nothing like women in the real world? What body or look did you hanker after during your teens? Possibly the super-toned and fit look, pioneered by the original supermodels? Or was it the opposite ideal – skinny “heroin chic” – touted in the 90s? Or the curves and hourglass figure of the 50s and 60s? Whatever, or whoever, you aspired to look like, what’s probably true for all moms is that trends have since moved on to something new.
If she’s showing a growing curiosity for her style and appearance, nurture this experimentation rather than being afraid of it. The greater sense she has for her own style, the less she will look to outside influences and trends to guide her.
Mom Sonja agrees: “I think that giving kids the freedom to find their own style is essential. It’s one of the earliest forms of expression, creativity and personal choice they have.”
This can even teach her not to be a follower, as Gill discovered when her 13-year-old daughter Kirsty quickly regretted embracing the latest trend. “She started listening to Jessie J who she rather admires,” says Gill. “There was quite an argument when she came home with a Jessie J haircut that she soon loathed and could do nothing with after two weeks. Said fringe has since been grown out.”
“When I think of some of my own haircuts and outfits over the years, I want to climb into a hole, but it’s all a part of growing up and finding out who you are,” laughs Sonja, who is mom to 11-year-old Caitlin.
It’s normal – and perfectly harmless – for your daughter to experiment with some of the latest looks and trends. Nurture the development of her own sense of style and foster her creativity through self-expression. Remind her from time to time that the latest fashion for body shape and size will change and she needn’t be a slave to the current image of perfection.
Taking steps to drastically alter your appearance is becoming normal, and having a huge impact on girls today. Girlguiding’s 2012 Girls’ Attitudes Explored... Role Models report found that 47% of girls think that the pressure to look attractive is the most negative part of being female. And half of those aged 16-21 (and more than 1 in 10 girls under 16) would consider cosmetic surgery to change the way they look. Media reports of cosmetic surgery also tend to gloss over the pain, hefty financial expense and frequent medical complications that these procedures can leave.
“Let her know how trends for body features are changeable, yet cosmetic surgery is permanent,” advises healthy body image campaigner, Sharon Haywood “Show her the real face of cosmetic surgery by sharing photos of patients post-op, which often reveal the suffering that so often accompanies altering one’s appearance. Also, (using reliable sources as support) discuss the real health risks involved, which can include undesired and lasting consequences.”
Use our helpful action checklist below to celebrate your daughter’s personal style and unique brilliance.
To protect privacy we’ve changed the names of the people whose stories we tell on these pages. But the stories they tell are absolutely true.
Shape your Culture, 2012-2013: The Stats
Girlguiding’s 2012 Girls’ Attitudes Explored... Role Models
Twitter: Sharon Haywood
Media Smarts: Body Image
Sharon Haywood Health and body image expert
Article date: 28 June 2013
Review date: 28 June 2014
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