Savvy Sassy Moms partnered with Dove for this post. All opinions are my own.
Like many women, I have a complicated relationship with beauty — especially with the idea of my own beauty. I spent a lot of time in the past wishing I could transform myself into something more than what I was. I still can’t say with 100% certainty that I’m comfortable in my own skin all of the time. Having a daughter made me all the more aware of the conflicting messages we see and hear about the way women look and the way women act, and I know I want her to feel more comfortable with herself than I did growing up.
Learning about the Dove Self-Esteem Project
Dove wants to encourage positive thinking in young people, too. For over 10 years now, the Dove Self-Esteem Project has been supporting parents, mentors, and teachers on their quest to separate themselves from beauty stereotypes and unhealthy self-doubt. So, I appreciated the opportunity to use the Dove materials in the latest #HourWithHer workshop with my own 8-year old daughter.
Facilitating the My Beauty Story: Redefined workshop
The #HourWithHer workshops give young people and a mentor the opportunity to explore how friends, family, the media, and their own preconceived notions about beauty affect their perceptions of their bodies and their selves. Each workshop consists of four parts:
- Rewriting the (beauty) script
- Establishing language
- Writing a new script
- Acting it out
Combining workshop tips with personal experiences
I find it easy to talk about beauty stereotypes and why they’re damaging. My daughter and I already talk about how things she sees in the media are manipulated digitally. We discuss flattering lighting and filters to body manipulation apps and airbrushing. The harder part, for me, comes when I have to explore the very real vulnerability that comes with sharing personal stories — and accepting that my daughter has her own ideas and personal experiences shaping her concept of beauty.
The #HourWithHer workshop does a fabulous job of tapping into that connection between logical and emotional. Mentors share a defining body moment of their own and talking about the impact it has and how to change that impact. Opening up to my daughter and giving her the space to open up to me gave us a shared space to talk about building a positive body image.
Spending an #HourWithHer
As a former teacher, I know different things work with different kids. I do think it’s important for kids to work outside of their comfort zone at times. However, I recognized my daughter would need a little time to process what we were doing. We spent time talking about language and how people use certain words, like fat, to be insulting. I emphasized how hurtful that language can be.
I shared a story with her from my childhood that I still remember, one that shaped how I felt about eating and my body for a long time. She shared a story with me, one I hadn’t heard, about how she feels about her own body. If you’re doing this project with your daughter or other girls you care about, be prepared to hear perceptions or stories you don’t expect. I see so much beauty in my daughter — both inside and out. It hurt to hear her say something negative about herself.
Adapt the workshop to fit your girls
The format of the workshop encourages the girls to flip the script on their defining moment, to reframe it in a positive way and act it out. I knew that wouldn’t work for us. Instead, we took the journals in the kit and wrote an “alternate ending.” Essentially, it’s the same thing, but it led to more discussion in a way that made my daughter comfortable.
The benefit of redefining moments of beauty
The #HourWithHer workshop gave my daughter and I a touchpoint for talking about body image. She loved the “Today I feel…” sticky notes. We’ve been using them to deliver little, unspoken messages to each other. Because I think it’s important to focus on more than just our bodies, we’ve extended it to moods. I think it allows us to give each other a little extra TLC when we need it.
Make plans to spend an hour making a difference
You can learn more about the #HourWithHer workshops at Dove online. Take some time to browse a wide variety of materials to jumpstart conversations with girls you care about. Even spending a single hour with a girl can make an impact. One hour can plant a seed of confidence and self-care that blooms throughout her whole life.
That hour made me even more aware of the power of language — especially positive language — when talking about the physical parts of ourselves. Although I’ve always believed it of her, I’m making conscious choices to talk about how strong and capable her body is. In turn, I’m taking the time to appreciate those things in my own body, too.
Have you talked with your girls about what they perceive as beautiful?
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