Your are the proud parent of a beautiful healthy teenage daughter, everybody sees it.
'So why,' you may wonder 'doesn't she?'
You would kill to have her body, and yet she seems to have no conception of how good she really looks.
You have talked to other mothers of daughters her age and it brings you some relief that they report that their daughters posses a similar attitude.
Like your teen, they seem to nit pick about their appearances; complaining that their nose is too big or too small; their chins are to long or too wide; eyes are too dark or too light; and of course almost all the other moms you have talked to relate that their daughters are never happy with their hair; too straight, too curly, too thick, or too thin.
What may be even more perplexing about your daughter's attitude is that you often hear her protest when one of her friends complains about her own looks.
How is it that she can clearly see the beauty in others, but only seems to focus on the imperfections in herself?
In reality, the explanation is not so cut and dry. There are most likely several factors contributing to your daughter's distorted perception of her outward image.
A typical part of teen development is their propensity toward self-examination. Most teen's walk around believing that the outside world is constantly watching them.
This explains in part why they tend to worry so much about embarrassing themselves, or even that you will say or do something to embarrass them in front of their friends.
Teens are often committed to a concept of beauty that reflects 'perfect' features. Of course their visions of the definition of 'perfect' varies from individual.
If for example, your teen believes the 'perfect' nose is small and slightly upturned, she will be dissatisfied with her nose if it is a different shape or size.
As we get older, we tend to focus less on every individual feature and more on the whole package. What is interesting is that, as alluded to earlier, most teen's tend to focus on the fine details of their own features, however, they are less observant or critical about the features of their friends.
Of course, picking apart your friend's looks is not very conducive to maintaining lasting friendships.
In addition, teen's are egocentric by nature. As a result, they are far more detailed self-focus, than attending as intensely to how others look.
Another factor which contributes to an unrealistic vision of beauty is steeped in the pictures the media presents of perfection. Magazines pages are filled with photos of beautiful models. The mere fact that even slight imperfections are eradicated via airbrushing encourages women to buy into an idealistic picture of beauty that does not really exist. Teens are particularly vulnerable to accepting these images as a standard toward which they strive.
Television and film also seem to sell an unrealistic version of beauty. Savvy marketers capitalize on a captive audience selling goods and services which promise to deliver this deceptive vision of beauty.
So then, how can you ensure that your own daughter don't get hung up on her own natural imperfections? Here are a few helpful hints:
1.) Validate, validate, validate. Chances are this something you already do regularly. Be sure to let her know how great she looks. You do however have to strike a balance. If you constantly compliment her, the words may begin to hold less meaning. Say it when you mean it. If for example, she does her hair in a new style you think looks great, be sure to tell her.
2.) Avoid picking at her. If for example her makeup is smudged kindly tell her but avoid the urge to do it for her. If the imperfection you notice is no big deal (eg a hair out of place), you are best served keeping quiet. What you say holds more meaning than you realize. If your daughter feels as if you are constantly fixing her, it will reinforce her belief that there is much that is broken.
3.) Be kind to yourself. Your teen takes many of her cues from you. If you are constantly complaining about your own imperfections, you reinforce her inclination to focus on her own imperfections. If you love your new haircut or think your new dress fits just right, say it out loud. You can for example validate yourself by pulling for her opinion: 'Don't you love my new haircut? I think my hairdresser did such a great job.' Once again, the key is balance too much self gushing can come off as fake or narcissistic.
The teen years can at times seem turbulent. Our daughters are especially hard on themselves at times.
Much of this attitude can indeed be developmental so she will grow out of it. With a little help from you she will see the individual beauty that makes her who she is, imperfections and all.
More from GalTime.com:
- The Ten Worst Things a Parent Can Say!
- Teaching Our Girls To Become Healthy Women
- 6 Foolproof Ways to Get Your Teens Talking
- Understanding Your Teen's 'Will Not Wear' List
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Jennifer Powell-Lunder and Barbara Greenberg are authors of the hit book, "Teenage as a Second Language: A Parent's Guide to Becoming Bilingual." They've set up an interactive website for parents and teens to listen, learn and discuss hot topics and daily dilemmas. You can find it at www.talkingteenage.com.