My parents recently brought some old albums out of storage. I flipped through the pages, eager to share them with my children and point out any similarities in our appearances. But as I studied the pictures, there was only one thing I could focus on: how deliriously happy I looked when I was aged 4 and under! It was a side of myself that I had completely forgotten — silly, animated and completely uninhibited. Looking at teeny me, I wondered — when was my carefree grin replaced with a downward glance and a shy smile? How did I get from there to here?
I'm a people-pleaser.
Did I notice that adults liked it better when I was quiet and docile?
Was it because I was the only South Asian child in my class and wanted to blend into the background instead of being different from the other kids?
Had I taken risks as a child and been scared off — realizing that it was safer to listen to grown-up advice than to follow my own impulses?
Figuring this out is especially important to me because I have a seven-year old daughter who mirrors me in many ways. And I’m happy with that — we’re thoughtful, super considerate of our loved ones, and we go out of our way to make sure everyone feels included in social situations. So yes, I want her to be like me. But I also want her to be MORE than me. I want her to retain her confidence and independence — I don’t want her sparkle to be dimmed.
I want to start building up her self-esteem at a young age — which means educating myself in the best ways to help my daughter. This is why I’m so happy to tell you about Dove's Be Your Beautiful Self Program.
Dove conducted global studies and found that 9 out of 10 girls want to change at least one aspect of their appearance, and that 6 out of 10 girls avoid participating in activities because they feel bad about their looks. Dove wants to help girls develop their body confidence and self-esteem, and have committed to a goal of reaching 15 million young people by the end of 2015.
As part of that social mission, Dove will be providing a series of Self-Esteem Workshops for mothers and daughters across Canada in October 2014, with YMC and #YMCCommunity Bloggers as hosts.
Some of the questions that will be covered in workshops — and that you can also discuss at home with your daughters include:
These conversation starters help promote discussion around the idea that we shouldn't have to fit a certain mould to be happy — and to be hyper-aware that many images seen in the media are neither attainable or realistic. It's so important for children to understand that with digital images: Nobody looks like that! Even the person in the picture doesn't really look like that!
This is perfectly demonstrated in Dove's award-winning Evolution video, which illustrates how a person's image is cosmetically and digitally altered before being used in advertising:
I look forward to hosting a Dove Self-Esteem workshop and getting the chance to discuss these important issues with other mothers and daughters. It took time for my confidence to re-emerge — it's only in my 30s that I've become more willing to take on risks and challenges. Motherhood and blogging have helped me overcome my self-consciousness — I'm no longer afraid to stand out or be different. Hopefully, by focusing on self-esteem from a young age, my daughter will always feel strong and this will never be an obstacle for her.
Visit our 'self-esteem resource page' for helpful info on how to talk with your daughter about real beauty and self-esteem.
We need you to be a part of the Dove mission to improve the self-esteem of over 15 million girls by 2015.