The pressure for girls to be slim has never been greater – or started earlier. A shocking 70 per cent of seven-year-olds say they want to be thinner, reports Tanith Carey in her book, Girls Uninterrupted – and a quarter of 10-year-olds have been on a diet.
So how do we encourage our daughters – and ourselves – to accept our bodies?
- Don’t comment on or judge women on their looks. ‘Praise their strength or personalities instead,’ says Carey.
- If your child is falling for the myth of celebrity perfection, seek out online images of pics pre- and post-airbrushing.
- Some reassurance is necessary. ‘The women I spoke to whose parents never commented on their appearance filled the vacuum this created by assuming they were ugly,’ Carey points out.
- Be an alternative voice. ‘Girls are being raised in a hypercritical culture and they learn to internalise these voices,’ says Carey. ‘If a girl starts criticising the way she looks, suggest that she wouldn’t allow anyone else to say such cruel things to her, so why would she say those things to herself?’
- ‘Create your own definition of beauty by admiring women outside of the stereotype,’ says Carey.
- Remind girls that women considered beautiful can find something they don’t like about the way they look – the quest for perfection is a road to nowhere.
- With older girls, point out that destructive self-criticism is a way of allowing the oppression of women to happen inside her own head. ‘Tell her to reject those voices,’ says Carey.
Girls Uninterrupted: Steps for Building Stronger Girls by Tanith Carey is published by Icon Books, £7.99
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