After several appointments with parents over the last few weeks concerning their daughters, I thought I’d share a collection of advice about young women. I am not a counselor but try to offer direction to parents of girls through a developmental and sociological lens.
1) Parents discuss with your daughter that there has always been pressure for women to have “perfect” bodies, but it has never been more unhealthy or intense. Ask her “Is there more acceptance of men’s different body types?” It is healthier if a girl sees the inequity rather than feels inadequate about not living up to an impossible body ideal.
Mom: think about how you talk about your own body.
Dad: consider how you talk about your wife’s, daughter’s, and other women’s bodies.
2) Limit or disallow beauty reality shows, beauty magazines, and say ‘no’ to watching beauty pageants. Media has a way of speaking louder than any amount
3) Focus on the strength, power, and unique capabilities of your daughter and other women, rather than on appearance. Display a picture of your daughter showing physical exuberance, power, or bravery. For example, jumping into the water, holding a frog or snake, reeling in a fish, whacking a ball. Place it where she will see it often.
4) All sports are good for girls, but parents should be aware that the risk of eating disorders is somewhat higher among judged sports (figure skating, cheering, dance, and gymnastics) than the refereed sports (tennis, soccer, softball, and lacrosse).
5) Most importantly, assert yourself if a family member or friend makes a sexist comment about you, your daughter, or other women. Say why it is wrong or harmful.
If you have other thoughts or advise to help me encourage parents with girls, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rev. Andy Stoker , PhD
(214) 220-2727 ext 222
1928 Ross Ave.
Dallas Texas 75201