The Mall! The Clothes! The Conversations To Have!
I remember when I got my first pair of Guess! Jeans back in the 80s. It was a huge deal as all of my friends had them, and I was probably one of the last girls to get a pair. I was in seventh grade, a major time in a tween girl's life, when I was looking around, seeing what everyone else was wearing and wanting to fit in, not caring if it looked good on me or was appropriate. If it was what all of the "pretty" girls wore, if the "cool kids" had them, I wanted them too.
My daughter is young, and even she looks around her little playmates and sees someone in a dress or with certain leggings and gets in her head that this is what she should be wearing to fit in and look "right". It is totally part of growing up. We see fashion on others and the images on TV and in the media and make a determination - good or bad - about what we should wear to "be beautiful."
As we all know, the images and ideas out there of what is beautiful often isn't a healthy one or correct or positive. And it is tricky to get our girls to understand this in a way they will hear it and take it in and feel confident with their own bodies and looks....even trickier when you are in the dressing room at a store in the mall and you and your daughter are battling about a dress or a pair of jeans or when you see your daughter start to feel less than confident about her looks.
Here are some tips on how to talk to your girl about clothes -- and all that goes with them -- to help her inner strength.
-- Change the focus. Let's say your daughter really wants a shirt that is too "old" or sexy for her. Her wanting that sexy shirt may have nothing to do with how it looks, but more about her friends or the "cool kids" wearing similar ones. Talk about those issues -- about fitting in, about why maybe those kids like it, about basing choices on factors besides what others are doing -- rather than argue about the shirt.
-- Establish ground rules and offer decent choices. When it comes to clothes, have ground rules that are set and review them before you shop. When you are shopping and she wants something that goes against these rules, don't just say no -- talk about it. Ask her why she wants that particular item, how it feels on her body, and work together to find decent options that she can feel good about.
-- Keep reminding her about the things she does that make her pretty, not that she is pretty. Emphasize behaviors and choices that she makes as a basis of being cool and pretty, not what she wears or how her body looks.
-- Use the images to give your own message. When you see pictures and images in the mall or magazines, use them to talk about what she thinks about them and what you see in them. Use the time in the mall to open up discussions about what is pretty, all of the ways someone can be pretty or cool and how it has nothing to do with body size or wearing the right sweater or brand. Also, point out all different body types in the media and the movies.
-- Pick your battles. If her choice of clothing falls within your boundaries, then let her do what she wants to do -- even if she wants to wear stripes with polka dots or get a treak of blue in her hair or really ugly earrings, if they are within the rules, let her do them. Applaud her for making positive choices when she selects items you think are good ones.
-- Look at what surrounds her. Especially for the younger girls, if you buy her dolls with clothing that is too tight or too "old" for what that doll is, you are sending a message that may not be so positive. Be sure you watch television shows or videos with her so you can see what she is seeing as "pretty."
Do you battle with your daughter about clothes and what she wants to wear? Share how you try build her self-esteem when dealing with clothes and certain body images in the mall?