Self esteem is a fragile yet essential ingredient for a happy and fulfilling life right? I realise that I may be viewed as biased on this subject. After all helping people raise their self esteem is kind of what I do! But that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t be a much happier person if I knew in my heart that my services were no longer needed.
I honestly believe that having a high level of regard for ourselves as people is our birthright. But I am also keenly aware that we live in the age of filters and airbrushing and Kardashians. The chances of our children and young people holding on to their own self esteem is getting slimmer.
Through all forms of media, we are constantly bombarded by images of perfection. The press get excited when a brand announces that their latest model has un-airbrushed stretch marks. But honestly, one or two teeny stretch marks does not make a model real – in my opinion anyway.
So how do we as parents ensure that our children grow up without having their minds melted by this constant onslaught of fake perfection? What support exists for us to help our children?
Its a huge question and one that beauty brand Dove have made their mission through their wonderful “Self Esteem Project”. The project, which since 2004 has made a positive impact on an estimated 29 million young people across 140 countries, provides sessions in schools as well as resources for teachers, parents, mentors and youth leaders. They have a target to reach 40 million children by 2020.
Through a partnership with the Cartoon Network, they have teamed up with popular show Steven Universe and will educate children on body confidence through themes of empowerment and inclusivity. They will produce new shows which will explore appearance related bullying, image manipulation in the media and more.
The work that Dove are doing along with the Cartoon Network will make a huge difference to many young people.
But what can we do?
There are a number of ways to answer that question. Some related to our behaviour as parents and some related to practical steps we can take as a community.
As parents, I believe that we can make an effort to be mindful of how we talk about our own body image in front of our children. They perceive us as perfect. If they sense that we do not see that perfection in ourselves, they may begin to look at themselves differently too. Its a small change to make, but potentially a powerful one.
We can also be mindful of what we allow our children to be exposed to and at what age. You know you own child better than anyone, so only you can judge when they are emotionally strong enough to be given access to any form of filter or photo enhancement apps. But being mindful is the key.
As a community, we can all get behind the Dove campaign. You can follow their Instagram Account (@Dove) and show your support to their project related posts. You can also talk to your child’s school and see if they are aware of the project and the benefits it could bring.
The time is now
Simply put, any efforts we can make as adults to minimise our children’s exposure to this onslaught of fake perfection is effort well spent. Their self esteem is the prize.
We want to raise a generation of happy, confident and fulfilled adults, who go on to live incredible lives full of everything they want to achieve and without any limitations. And I know from the work I do with my coaching clients that unless something momentous changes in how we view perfection, the likelihood of our children being anything like as happy as we want them to be, is shrinking and fast.
It really is down to us as parents to make the biggest difference we can here.