Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Self Esteem... Pass it On

(Reward at the bottom of the post)

Self esteem. What does that phrase mean to you? For me, I think of all that encompasses me and how I feel about me. There are definitely things about myself that I am proud of or content with, my appearance is not one of them... specifically my weight. I have major issues with my body that do affect my life and my activities.

I've started wondering how these issues and feelings about myself are going to affect my daughter (when she arrives). What will she learn from looking at me and listening to me? Will she learn to nit pick her every imperfection? Will she learn to say mean things to herself? Will she learn that her appearance makes a difference in what she can do and accomplish? Will she learn that her appearance is of the utmost importance over all of her other qualities? Man, I sure hope not. Of course I won't come right out and teach her these things, but will she derive these "lessons" from my actions?

Now is the time for me to raise my own self-esteem and get myself in check. I want to empower my daughter to be and do anything she wants to. I want her to see beauty in all things and all people including herself. I want healthy habits to be a part of life, not just something you do to "fix" a problem.

What if I do a good job with all of that teaching and empowering, and then she goes to school and gets another message from her peers... or from the media... or a relative... or the list goes on. How will I talk to her? Will she believe me when I say she is beautiful? Or will she think that I am just her mom and I have to say those things?

We all know that low self-esteem affects so much more than what you say to yourself in the mirror. It affects schoolwork, it affects the types of friends you choose or put up with, it affects the risks you take (good and bad), it affects your self worth which in turns gives yourself permission to do certain things... things a mother doesn't want to imagine.

What can I do to help my daughter cope with adolescence and the pressures she'll experience everyday?

The Dove campaign for Real Beauty has recently launched a new initiative called "Real Girls, Real Pressure: A National Report on the State of Self-Esteem, commissioned by the Dove Self-Esteem Fund ".

"Too many girls and young women develop low self-esteem from hang-ups about
looks and consequently fail to reach their full potential in later life. The
Dove Self-Esteem Fund (DSEF) was established as an agent of change to inspire
and educate girls and young women about a wider definition of beauty. The
DSEF is committed to help girls build positive self-esteem and a healthy body
image, with a goal of reaching 5 million girls globally by 2010. It has
already reached 2 million young women."

They are targeting girls ages 8-17 and their mothers to help build/repair/maintain self esteem. The exciting thing is that they provide FREE materials for mothers and daughters to begin talking and working on self -esteem. They have a mother's guide and a mother/daughter activity guide to help you facilitate conversations and about beauty, body, pressures, self-esteem, and self confidence. The guides have questions and activities to help us build an open-relationship with our daughters and to remind us how our own self-esteem and hang-ups affect our girls.

"A mom is one of the most important influences in the life of a daughter. Whether you are a step mom, an auntie, a grandmother, a big sister or just a loving friend, the role of a ‘mother’ is important and necessary in a girl’s development.
Your love and care sets the foundations for your daughter’s life. Who you are will profoundly affect who she is and who she will be. How you feel about yourself, your looks, your body, your beauty, acts like a script from which your daughter will make choices about how she should feel about herself. In order to give your daughter the strength and courage she needs to feel beautiful in a world that may challenge her values, you need to take inventory of your own feelings of beauty."
-Dr. Susie Orbach and Dr. Nancy Etcoff (Dove's Academic Advisors)

(My mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great-grandmother )

I read through the materials and found them to be informative, thought-provoking and interesting. They also provide an entire FREE workshop kit with DVD/CD to teach you how to run a self-esteem workshop in your area. Dove is also on the road providing workshops in many different states, you can check their map and schedule to see if there will be one in your area soon.

Self-esteem is an important issue, and I am very thankful to Dove for their initiative and for providing FREE tools to all of us. Click on any of the green links above to read more about the campaign, the National Report, and the booklets and activity guides (under self-esteem tools). You can also find short videos and other resources for you, your daughter, or your workshop.

We can support Dove and their Real Beauty and Real Girls Real Pressures programs by buying Dove products and by helping them to spread the word. In an effort to do my part. I'm offering up a small challenge and reward. Please post about self-esteem on your blog and reference Dove's FREE Self-Esteem tools, then come back here and leave a link to your post in the comments of this post. If you do not have a blog, then just leave a comment here about your thoughts on the subject of beauty and self-esteem. I will award 2 winners (chosen at random) and will send you a gift from Dove. Leave your comment or post link by midnight March 29th. Thank you in advance for your support.


Jenny said...

As you know, I've thought about this part of life as well; how will I best be able to inspire my daughters how to live their best life? Your post reminded me about a post I wrote on my blog in Oct. 2006... here's a paragraph

"Now that I have my own child I am accutely aware of the fact my behavior will impact Avery more than any other's. I hope she will see a strong woman who has her head on her shoulders, who walks the walk and talks the talk and doesn't back down from something she believes in. I want her to appreciate intelligence and education, I want her to see kindness and behave with kindness as her first impulse. Most of all, I want her to be strong, I want her to stand up for what she believes in and find her passion in life. Interestingly enough, these are the same things my mother wanted when she gave birth to me. I found out the other evening no matter what changes with the world, a mother's desire for her child is the one constant in life."

Your post also is somewaht identical to my thoughts that are on my most recent blog post in regards to my running and health. So many parents don't really look at how their health and their self-image will impact their children and it absolutely will. I think you are obviously aware of how you want to raise your children and the one thing I can tell you is that your children are so lucky to have a mom like you! You're amazing and no matter what, you will absolutely inspire them just like you have inspired so many of your friends!

Great post!

Anonymous said...

Lisa- This is great! I hadn't had a chance to read through this yet and look at the video. Thank you so much for posting it and the links. I really worry about this too.

Karrie said...

I like this a lot, and I'm going to put it on my blog in the next few days. Thanks for the info. You knew me best when I had little to NO self esteem. I like myself MUCH better now. It all came about with finally feeling accepted for who I am, and it had to come from myself. I am going to do my best to pass that on to my girls- health is important, and taking care of your body and looks is great, but it's not the focus. My own mom was always dieting and saying how fat she was or how much she ate that day (she still does) and that screwed me up for a long time with boderline eating disorders. I am NOT going to do that to my girls, because it's miserable. As for advertisements and Hollywood, I have no idea how to fix that, except to not make it important in my life. No Glamour, People magazine, etc. in my house. I do like Style magazine, for when I attempt to be stylish. Mostly though, I like to wear boys jeans and a t-shirt. And that's okay!