As a teenager I would regularly ask my brother ‘Does my bum look big in this?’. I am sure that he would lie in the end as he probably got sick and tired of my asking. Move along a few years and I distinctly remember Arabella Weir asking the same question in an ongoing sketch on ‘The Fast Show’. It became a running joke between me and my brother.
I have 4 sisters, all of whom are conscious of their image in one form or another although I don’t put this down to my Mum. I can never remember her being on a diet or complaining about her weight. She didn’t have time for things like that! I do remember my paternal Grandmother being concerned about her image though. She would constantly be at weight watchers and was a bit obsessive about us not ‘being fat’. She even came round one day and told one of my sisters to ‘run round the garden because she was getting fat’. My sister was about 14 years old. A really influential age.
Now, being the Mum of a daughter who is currently 7 years old I am so careful of what I say. More than I used to be. Yes, I talk about diet but I am careful to make sure it is about healthy eating and not losing weight. I also talk about exercise and staying fit. We have all pledged as a family that we need to stay healthy but Grace has already started to say ‘look Mum, my skirt fits a bit better today. I think I have lost weight’. I tell her that she is perfect as she is.
The other thing that Grace is concerned with is her birth mark under her nose. When she was born, the doctors told me that it may never fade. It has done over the years and, as she gets bigger, it gets harder to see. As a toddler she never even noticed but as her school years commenced she started to realise and get upset. I have told her time and again that her birth mark is what makes her special. She is beautiful and unique and one of a kind. She is also aware of the power of make-up. She tried out my concealer a few times a couple of years ago, wanting the birth mark to disappear. I let her try this but as time has moved on, so has she. She seems to have realised that this is a part of her and that her friends accept her for who she is. As she gets into her teens, I believe that this may change again. But I am fully prepared to help her through that stage too, with love, support and encouragement.
Grace told me yesterday that one of her school friends was being bullied and getting called ‘nit girl’. She told me that she looked after her and made sure she was alright. I hope that is because the good part of my legacy is rubbing off on her.
According to new research from Dove, 69% of women say their child has seen them engaging in negative body language habits, with more than a third of mothers (34%) admitting that their child has mimicked their negative beauty behaviours. With these stats in mind, Dove is encouraging women to ensure a positive beauty legacy for future generations, by asking them to pledge their positive beauty legacy using #FeelBeautifulFor.
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.”
Dove has 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 www.selfesteem.dove.co.uk. This month, Dove has created the ‘Mindful Me’ guide to help girls to be more mindful, while helping to build their self-belief as they mature in body, mind and spirit.
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.
Who inspires me? My Mum. She is still someone who never complains about her appearance. Has never ‘fad dieted’ and is still beautiful. I hope I can be the same for Grace.
Dove: Legacy, have created a film which highlights the importance of women seeing their own beauty so they promote a positive beauty legacy to the girls in their lives. Take a look.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Dove, however all opinions and thoughts are my own.