Building self-esteem in young girls #FeelBeautifulFor

As a mother to a young daughter I am very aware of how things I do are picked up and copied by Emmy, she will often follow me into the bathroom and copy me putting on my make-up and sometimes ask to wear some.  At 4 and a half of course she is too young for make-up but in the house I do let her occasionally.  She doesn’t see this as part of a uniform per-say for her Mummy – I need to hide those bags under my eyes and wrinkles from the world, she doesn’t notice them though.

It was this coping behaviour that made me take a step back recently and think twice about how I portray myself to her, if she doesn’t see the bags and wrinkles and really doesn’t care then should I?  The answer of course is NO and it was realising this that now stops me wearing my make-up daily.  I actually now leave the house without it some days (a very scary thought in past years), if I’m staying at home then I won’t wear any.  I don’t want my daughter growing up thinking that imperfections need to be hidden. 

Dove have released a new film Legacy to highlight how women hold the power to building self-esteem in young adults.

How we think of ourselves and portray ourselves in front of our children is very important as they pick up on our insecurities, worries and fears and themselves start to have those same insecurities about themselves.

This video shows real mums being asked how they feel about their bodies – they openly talk about the parts they don’t like, their daughters were then asked the same question and they ALL had the same body worries as their Mums.  Please do take a look – does this ring true in your family  at all? 

The new research by Dove has found that:
  • 69% of women say their child has seen them engaging in negative body language habits
  • A third of mothers (34%) admitting that their child has mimicked their negative beauty behaviours
  • When negatively describing how they feel about their appearance, UK women are most likely to use words such as: ‘tired’(79%), ‘old’ (69%) and ‘fat’ (68%)
  • The one piece of advice that most women want to share with younger girls to promote a positive beauty legacy for future generations is to: ‘learn to see the beauty that exists in everyone’ (51%)* ‘learn to accept who you are’ (35%), and ‘be true to yourself’ (29%).
I have a few body hang-up’s myself:
  • I have a Mummy tummy which isn’t going anywhere fast – especially after 2 c-sections
  • I have tree-trunks for legs
  • I also don’t like my Bingo-wing arms

I do exercise in front of Emmy and we laugh about Mummy’s Baby belly, I diet (not very well) and she see’s me drinking my fruit and veg purees made with my NutriBullet.  I do however make sure she see’s me eating chips with her and I will have a McDonald’s with her too.  I’m not too hung up on changing my weight and eating only salads as she will pick up on this, I’m happy with who I am  what I look like – OK YES I do want to shift a few more pounds and that will happen, but in time, slowly and surely.

I don’t want my 4 year old thinking she has to eat like a rabbit and then exercise loads to keep thin.  We have discussions as to why Mummy drinks her ‘special puree drinks’ and we talk about being fit and healthy.

I believe it’s good for children to know from a young age about nutrition and exercise but don’t believe on it being forced onto them.  It’s all about control really. 

We run around the park together and bounce on the trampoline and will also happily slob on the sofa in our PJ’s eating popcorn and sweets. 

I do also bath with my children, it’s our little routine.  Daddy washes up while Emmy, Harry and Mummy get in the bath together.  They will laugh about my unshaven legs saying it tickles them, they will poke at Mummy’s lumps and bumps, and we are comfortable with this.  I am happy for the kids to see me naked, it’s natural and comfortable in our household.

I’m no size 8/10, I have my imperfections BUT I don’t mind that, that’s me – and I would rather Emmy grow up seeing these imperfections and knowing they are normal than growing up in a world where she see’s only thin people, those with perfect skin, hair and bodies – as yes those people do exist, however I want her to know that being HER and being HAPPY is the most important thing in the world, and the easiest way to show her this is by believing that for me.

Leading psychotherapist and Chair of the Dove Self-Esteem Project Advisory Board, Susie Orbach said:
“The role models in girls’ lives are often unaware of how much young girls watch and mimic them.  A girl grows up absorbing the behaviours and attitudes of their family members, especially her mother’s, and making them her own. These behaviours and attitudes form the foundation of who they are and how they feel about themselves.
“So, how we talk about ourselves, how we eat, how comfortable or uncomfortable we are in our own bodies, is the medium in which a daughter’s own body sense and body confidence grows or wilts. How well a young girl or young woman deals with the onslaught of media and commercial forces on body preoccupations is affected by what they pick up at home. Mothers are so important in providing a safe base.”

Based on Dove’s findings – and armed with the knowledge they have the power to affect younger generations, more than half of women (53%)* are now actively trying to become better role models for young girls.  The one piece of advice most women want to share with younger girls to promote a positive beauty legacy is, to ‘learn to accept who you are’ (35%)*, ‘be true to yourself’ (29%)*, and ‘learn to see the beauty that exists in everyone’ (51%)*.

“Whether she is a mother, aunt, coach, teacher, or sister, every woman has the opportunity to make a difference to a girl’s self-esteem,” said Lucy Attley, Dove UK Brand Director.  “By talking about our bodies in a positive way, we can help the next generation of girls grow up to be happy and content, free from the pressure of beauty stereotypes and the burden of self-doubt.”
Having reflected on their own beauty legacy, male and female role models in young girls’ lives are realising the importance of promoting a positive beauty message. Nearly 1 in 3 (32%)* women said the one thing they would change would be to be more confident, so they can pass their confidence on to younger generations.
Dove wants all women to embrace their beauty so they can make a difference to those they love. Dove is encouraging women to share who in their life inspires them to pass on a positive beauty legacy using the hashtag #FeelBeautifulFor.
Dove have also created a variety of self-esteem building materials and activity guides for women to discuss with young girls (aged 7-17) in their lives, so they can take steps to improve their self-esteem. The full range of self-esteem building materials can be downloaded from
You can help to inspire the next generation of young women by leaving your own positive beauty legacy pledge at  #FeelBeautifulFor.

*Posted in collaboration with Dove*




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6 thoughts on “Building self-esteem in young girls #FeelBeautifulFor

  1. It's so hard isn't it? I try really really hard to set a god example. I also won't buy or read celeb mags or follow celebrities etc and try and point out things like photoshopped pictures when I can. I try and give the right positive vibes but it is a tough one!

  2. Yes, I agree body image is such a pressure for girls, I don't feel I noticed it when I was younger but I can tell a lot has changed since I was at school! I hope to have a daughter one day and I will be really careful to teach her about positive body image and eat healthily around her, as I do all my children. I hope that with healthy eating and fun outdoor exercise like going on bike rides, they will have a positive image of themselves. Although I do worry that when we move to Thailand it will be impossible, if you think the UK is bad, the pressures are far worse of there! even a size 8 is considered fat!

  3. This is such a minefield and doesn't only apply to girls, though I think they're aware of body image earlier than boys. My teenage son thinks he's fat (which he isn't at all) and it probably comes from me thinking I'm fat. I know I need to have a more confident image of myself to portray infont of him.

  4. My Husband and I have been trying to lose weight, and I won't let him talk about dieting or losing weight in front of our daughter. Girls are bombarded with enough body issues but I want to keep it away from her as long as I can (she's six).

  5. i couldnt agree more, my little one is 3 and she doesnt pick up on the things that i dont like about myself. i have seriously had my confidence knocked since having children, before having sassy i was really little (well i was only 20) i was size 6 tops and size 8-10 trousers but now ive got a soft belly which squidges, my legs wobble.. but never once has sassy pointed any of this out she has however come to me to say i love your dress/your hair is pretty up/i like your lipstick.

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