Growing up and actually until I was in my thirties I suffered from terrible self -esteem. So many of my decisions were based on my poor self image. So many opportunities were squandered because of fear which was really a lack of self - esteem. It is because of this that it has been so important to me from the time of my children's birth to foster their self-esteem as best I can. In some ways I may have over done the praise, over inflated their sense of self worth. Right now, at this point in time my kids all have great self-esteem. I know that this is not the end result, that their self- image is on a continuum. It is the same as the morals that we teach them. All I can do is teach them to respect themselves and encourage them to love who they are in the skin that they are in. The rest is up to them. The voice that speaks to them about who they are is not mine, but their own.
I shared with you last Wednesday that Grace and I signed up for a "True You", mother / daughter group that occurs Wednesday nights. The group is put on by our local health centre. On the surface it seems funny that a "health centre" is putting this on. The truth is that good self esteem reflects our mental health, and good mental health reflects our physical health. If you look at it like that, our health centre is cutting long term medical costs by running such a program. The "why" does not really matter. What matters is that Grace and I are getting one on one time, and even if we only take one small thing away from this group then it was worth it. What matters is that Grace is able to have a dialogue with other girls her age about a subject they would probably never discuss with their friends. What matters is that when she asks "am I fat", or "am I pretty", she will know that she is perfect just the way that she is. I won't have to tell her, she will just know.
In last week's class we were shown a "Dove" video. It showed the great lengths that the media goes to distort women's beauty. It showed an average looking girl through the help of lighting, make up, and computer enhancement she became an unattainable ideal. I am including the video at the bottom of this blog so that you can see for yourself. We then discussed why the fashion, and beauty industry would do this. We discussed how the girls and the mom's felt about this manipulation, and what the backlash of this was on self-esteem. The girls had strong opinions. I hope that they keep these strong opinions.
We also discussed some frightening statistics about women's self- esteem. When asked, 13 percent of girls aged 10-14 felt comfortable calling themselves beautiful. This drops to 6 percent of 15-17 year old girls. This further drops to a sickening 3 percent of women aged 18-64. The fact that only 13 percent of girls felt that they were beautiful was heart breaking enough, without seeing how much further that number sank. A girls inner critic moves in by age 14. That is why it is imperative that we change that inner critic before it settles.
To be beautiful means to be yourself.
You don't need to be accepted by others.
You need to accept yourself.
- Thich Nhat
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