Dealing with girl's need to be pretty

Educator, Rachel Simmons, Author of Odd Girl Out, discusses girls' obsession with how they look.
What To Do When Girls Become Obsessed With How They Look - Parenting Advice
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Dealing with girl's need to be pretty

When you have a daughter who is starting to become obsessed with how she looks, the first place you have to look is in the mirror. You have to ask yourself, what has your daughter been seeing in her own home, with other adults-are they obsessed with their appearance-because we script our children in how to think about their own value. And so, if you as a parent are deeply invested in your own physical beauty, that will transmit to your child. Now it’s true that some kids for whatever reason-maybe it’s biology, maybe it’s some show they watched-they suddenly, because of nothing you did, become obsessed. And so, what do you do then? Well first I think you have to look at how your daughter is spending her time and make sure that she is having experiences that cultivate internal self-worth. So that if, for example, she is at a school where she doesn’t feel particularly confident. Is she turning to her physical beauty as a source of self-worth? Does she have experiences like athletics, like a youth group where she can feel loved for who she is? Do you as a parent spend time regulating her access to things that really promote that obsession? As a parent, it’s important to talk critically about the culture that places physical beauty above all attributes as the most important thing that defines a girl’s worth. So, talk about photo shopping images, talk about commercials that make it seem as if being beautiful is the thing that will make you happy; talk about the pressure that women are under and what we lose when we spend all our time thinking about how we look. What else could you be doing instead of making yourself beautiful? What could you be thinking about instead of thinking about how you look? These are the kinds of conversations that may not feel rewarding to a parent in the moment because your daughter may kind of roll her eyes and go yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, but as a parent you are paying into the bank, as it were. When you parent an older child the returns don’t come immediately they tend to come later, often when you’re not even there, but they come because she is listening even if she doesn’t look like it.

Educator, Rachel Simmons, Author of Odd Girl Out, discusses girls' obsession with how they look.


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Rachel Simmons

Author & Educator

Rachel Simmons is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls, and The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence. As an educator, Rachel works internationally to empower young women to be more authentic, assertive and self-aware.

Rachel is a Vassar graduate and Rhodes Scholar from New York. The co-founder of the Girls Leadership Institute, she is an experienced curriculum writer and educator who works with schools and organizations around the world. She currently develops leadership programs for undergraduate women at the Center for Work and Life at Smith College. She has previously worked as a classroom teacher in Massachusetts and South Africa.

Rachel was the host of the recent PBS television special, “A Girl’s Life,” and is a contributing writer and advice columnist for Teen Vogue.

Rachel has appeared on Oprah and the Today show, and appears regularly in the national me- dia. Odd Girl Out was adapted into a highly acclaimed Lifetime television movie. Rachel lives in western Massachusetts with her daughter and West Highland Terrier, Rosie, who is currently taking private workshops with Rachel to learn how to stop bullying other dogs.

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