Teenage girls and high self-esteem are unfortunately not two things that often go together. Girls in their teens may feel uncomfortable about their looks, their weight, academic performance, or relationships with family and friends.
Low self-esteem can make these girls feel incompetent and inadequate and like no one could ever love them. These thoughts create negative views about themselves and the world as a whole, and can create self-defeating behavior as well as faulty assumptions.
Low self-esteem and the negativity that comes along with it can have devastating repercussions, especially for teenage girls.
Girls with low self-esteem are more likely to report taking part in harmful and dangerous activities like smoking, drinking alcohol, cutting themselves, bullying others, or suffering from an eating disorder.
Seventy-five percent of girls with low self-esteem report engaging in these activities as compared to 25 percent of girls who say they have high self-esteem. Low self-esteem can lead to depression, which affects 20 percent of teens before they turn 18.
It can also factor into how teen girls interact with others and engage in daily activities. When girls feel badly about their looks, 60 percent of them choose to avoid their normal activities, which includes going to school, visiting the doctor, playing sports, or even just giving their opinion in a conversation.
It is important to reach girls who do not feel good about themselves, because they will grow into women who do not feel good about themselves. The Dove Self-Esteem Project found that only 4 percent of women feel comfortable calling themselves beautiful.
The people behind the Project realized that the anxiety about one’s looks starts at a very early age, in the tween and teen years. They decided to make it their mission to help girls and women see beauty as a source of confidence as opposed to anxiety.
The Dove Self-Esteem Project started in 2004 as a way to help girls between the ages of 8 and 17 to have a positive relationship with their looks, raise their self-esteem and fulfill all their potential. They want girls and women to choose to participate fully in life so society won’t miss out on their valuable and necessary contributions.
The Dove Self-Esteem Project offers specific resources for parents and caregivers to learn how to raise confident, secure, well-adjusted girls with high self-esteem. They encourage parents to give girls tools to help them worry less about their looks and to develop positive body talk.
Here are five ways parents can boast their daughter’s self-esteem:
1) Let girls have some freedom of expression when it comes to their clothing.
2) Help girls see their inner beauty by focusing on their great personality and character qualities and not so much on their outer looks.
3) Ban the “fat” talk and use words that are positive when talking about both others and one's own self.
4) Moms need to build their own self-confidence and self-esteem to not pass on negative feelings to their child. Learning how to love one’s own body is the first step in modeling that behavior to kids.
5) Stop simple family bantering from turning into bullying. Girls can be particularly sensitive to negative teasing, especially when it comes from those closest to them.
Helping girls raise their self-esteem is important to society as a whole. These girls need to feel empowered to go on and find the cure for cancer or orbit the moon or become great moms to the next generation. These girls are the future!
Dove.us. Web. 12 May 2014. “Girls and Self-Esteem: Vision.
DoSomething.org. 12 May 2014. “11 facts about teens and self-esteem.”
Selfesteem.dove.us. 12 May 2014. “Boosting Self-Esteem.”
Reviewed May 12, 2014
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith