Help your daughter embrace her personal style

  • Age: 12-16 yrs
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Help your daughter embrace her personal style

If your daughter is chasing the current fashion and beauty trends, she might be finding it hard to keep up. Use our helpful action checklist to show her that following fashion doesn’t have to mean changing what or who she is.

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.

Nurture your daughter’s personal style

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.”

Share a few of your own fashion and beauty mistakes

“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.

Today’s trends, tomorrow’s cosmetic surgery problems

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.

Help your daughter get real about cosmetic surgery

“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.

Action checklist:
Help your daughter express her personal style without being a slave to fashion

  • Acknowledge the changes she’s experiencing: Being open about your daughter’s developing body will also help. Remind her that her body still has many changes to go through even post adolescence and what she sees in the mirror now will almost certainly change in the future. She may have started her periods young, for example, but her breasts may not develop fully for another few years.
  • Give her some context: Look at the styles that were big over the past few years and ask her if she would still want to look like that now. It’s hard for girls to know that they’ll feel differently a few years from now. Try reminding them how awful they think last year’s fashions are now.
  • Share your own fashion mistakes: Tell her how you looked at her age when you were “in fashion”. You could even share some old photographs with her to have a giggle at.
  • Help her look forward to the journey of change she’s on: However her body changes, beauty comes in many different shapes and sizes and she should look forward to discovering what hers will be. Encourage her to develop her own sense of style – and even learn from making a few mistakes – by experimenting with clothes, hair and anything that isn’t permanent.

What next: Action steps to help

  • Share this activity with your daughter – it will help her to explore different ideas about beauty and self-image in a fun and interactive way.
  • Keep talking to your daughter – she’s going to go through many looks and style phases, so check in regularly with her about where her personal style is taking her.
  • Think about personal role models – is there anyone from the past that you both really admire for having a unique style all of her own? You might be surprised by how many shared style icons you have.

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