“Lets change the world so that women and girls feel confident about their bodies”
As a mum of two young girls one of my greatest concerns about raising my daughters in todays society is the pressure of body image. We live a world that is filled with adverts, social media crazy and glossy fashion magazines just to name a few, that flaunt flawless youthful faces, the “perfect skinny” body and the picture perfect happy life with the double degree. With endless opportunities and information at their fingertips, along with the added pressures of daily life into adolescence I know that it may not be a walk in the park. It is our job as parents to nurture them, teach them to respect their bodies, teach them healthy habits, teach them it is ok to treat yourself, teach them that pretty is not just a pretty face, there is beauty in everything and kindness is the prettiest thing you can wear. I want my girls to know that everyone and every body shape is beautiful. We are all unique and beautiful in our own way.
I was quite alarmed recently by some of the statistics I read. Did you know that 38% of four year old girls want a different body size? Four year old girls! Why are our young daughters and young girls feeling like this already? How do they know what “skinny” is? How do they know what “I look fat” is? Im not pretty, Im ugly, she is beautiful!
I recently got introduced to The Pretty Foundation. I fell in love with their story and vision. Founded by Merissa Forsyth the mission behind The Pretty Foundation is to empower women and girls with the perspective, skills and support to develop and nurture a positive body image for themselves and others. Today on the Blog Merissa shares with us how she started The Pretty Foundation along with details about the one month campaign which kicks off on August 6th. I hope to see you all join along in the campaign focusing on using the power of words with our daughters.
- Merissa, thank you so much for taking the time to chat on the blog with me today. You are the Founder of the amazing Pretty Foundation. Can you tell us a little about the Pretty Foundation and how it came about?
In 2013, I put my corporate career to the side to establish the Makeup Free Me movement, which encouraged women and girls across Australia to go makeup free for a day to get a conversation about body image going. I just felt there was such a big need to help in the body image space as it was a growing issue. After running the campaign for a few years, the Makeup Free Me team and I started to dig deeper into the research and speak to experts in the field of body image. We found that the foundations for building a positive body image are laid in early childhood and that there were no initiatives focusing on this. In discovering this, I decided it was time to go beyond a campaign and start up Pretty Foundation, a not-for-profit aiming to empower women and girls with the perspective, skills and support to develop and nurture a positive body image for themselves and others. The programs and initiatives run by Pretty Foundation focus on 2-6 year old girls and their parents as this is where we feel we can make the biggest impact in encouraging girls to develop a healthy body image.
2. The statistics are pretty scary to read with for example 38% of 4 year old girls wanting a different body size. How can we as parents encourage and teach our daughters/young girls to develop a healthy body image?
There are lots of ways to help encourage a girl to develop a healthy body image. 4 key areas we encourage parents to focus on with their daughters are:
(i) Valuing what their bodies can do rather than what they look like.
(ii) Valuing the ways that they are different to everyone else, to encourage acceptance of diversity and tolerance of differences in themselves and others.
(iii) Valuing personal characteristics more than appearance.
(iv) Encouraging confidence in their own abilities as it encourages self-efficacy. This is particularly important for girls because it relates to what they believe they can and can’t do.
For further tips, you can find a free downloadable body image resource for parents on our website at www.prettyfoundation.org
- What are some of the signs to look for if we think our daughters maybe dissatisfied with their bodies?
A girl who feels dissatisfied with her body may:
(i) Have low self-esteem
(ii) Shy away or become withdrawn
(iii) Worry about the way that they look or what others think of them, and feel sad and unhappy with their body
- Now on Sunday August 6th, Pretty Foundation is kicking off a one month campaign Pretty Powerful. What is the mission behind this campaign? How can we get involved?
Parents play a significant role in shaping their daughter’s body image from an early age. What we say in front of our daughters has the power to influence their body image. So we are running a campaign called Pretty Powerful which focuses on the power of words. It’s a one month campaign whereby parents are encouraged to speak a body image mantra out loud with their 2-6 year old girls and to explore its meaning. The mantras to be explored throughout August are seeking to teach little girls to appreciate their strengths, skills and inner qualities rather than valuing outer qualities purely related to appearance. A parents’ language guide will also be released when the campaign is launched, with some tips on language to help promote a healthy body image and language to try and avoid. And further to this, we’ll have lots of childrens’ activities to support each of the mantras. The campaign will launch on Sunday 6th August, so check it out at www.prettyfoundation.org for all the resources.
- Where would you like to see the Pretty Foundation in the future?
We’ve started Pretty Foundation here in Australia but unfortunately the issue of negative body image is a global one and so I see our programs and initiatives going beyond our borders to help empower women and girls all around the world. I imagine a world where all women and girls are confident about their bodies and are living to their full potential but I don’t want to imagine any longer! We can’t do this alone, so please join our movement at pretty foundation.org, or through or social media channels at https://www.facebook.com/prettyfoundation/ or https://www.instagram.com/pretty_foundation/.