Rage Against the Thigh Gap: Encouraging Self-esteem in Girls

Wednesday , 19, February 2014 Leave a comment

Self Esteem

I was recently listening to a local morning radio show discuss weight and body image issues in young women. Several people called up with stories from their youth and/or things they were currently struggling with. One call in particular caught my attention. A mom was talking about her NINE-year-old daughter cutting calories and trying to achieve a “thigh gap”. (Yes, you read that correctly. NINE years old.) If you don’t know what I mean by “thigh gap”, check out this article and video from ABC News. I was completely heartbroken hearing about this little girl who is already filling her mind with negative thoughts about herself and her body. As a mother of two girls, I am extremely concerned about making sure they grow up to be confident women and that they are not burdened with such ridiculous issues as having a thigh gap. My girls are still pretty little, but I think it’s never too early to start thinking about these things. A few ways I have tried to address this issue in my own home (so far) are as follows:

  • Never talking about myself in a negative way in front of my girls. If I think I look fat in my jeans, I deal with it. They don’t need to hear about it.
  • Complimenting them on things other than their physical appearance. Yes, I tell them they are adorable, beautiful, gorgeous, etc. (because they totally are), but I also compliment them on being smart, creative, hard-working, kind, curious, helpful, funny, loving, patient, and strong.
  • Encouraging them to be involved. Studies have shown many benefits of being involved in team sports and other organizations, including increasing self-confidence. I strongly believe this to be true. Not only does it help them figure out their talents, but they build relationships and learn about people through these experiences.
  • Reading awesome books to demonstrate having confidence. I am a big believer in using books to support any goal I have for my kids. (An Elmo potty book saved me while potty training my youngest!) See below for a few awesome books that I’ve found. Also feel free to share books you know about; I’m always looking for new ones!
  • Modeling healthy friendships with other women. I cannot imagine where I would be without my amazing girlfriends. Far too many women bash other women, usually for the most absurd reasons. I want to teach my daughters to seek healthy friendships and to encourage other girls.


Awesome books about self-confidence for girls:
Here’s the list I promised.

I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions for addressing body image and self-confidence in young girls.

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