What You Can Learn From HBO's 'Girls': Damage-Proof Your Self-Esteem

The media's unrealistic images of women can crush your confidence. Here's how the star of HBO's 'Girls' and your family can keep your self-esteem high.
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The Girls of Girls

The girls of ‘Girls.’

1. Loads of family support. Snapp found that young women who come from a supportive and nurturing home life don’t take societal standards of beauty so much to heart. Feeling less pressure to look a certain way makes women feel better about the bodies they have.

“If a girl experiences open communication and quality time with family, including regular family meals, this builds a positive foundation, and she will be less likely to look to cultural standards of beauty as her standard for worth and value,” explains the study’s co-author, Laura Choate, an associate professor in the department of educational theory, policy and practice at Louisiana State University. “When she feels loved and fully accepted for who she is, she will feel less compelled to strive for the unrealistic thin-and-beautiful standard in order to feel okay about herself.”

Janet Roberts, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who specializes in body image and parenting, adds: “Parents need to reinforce, by words and actions, behaviors that are related to those positive qualities they wish their children to develop. Likewise, parents can de-emphasize those cultural stereotypes that are so damaging to everyone who is less than ‘perfect,’ which includes all of us. This requires being mindful about not reinforcing those ideals. For example, a parent would not want to frequently say things like, ‘You’re so pretty!’ instead emphasizing that their child has a beautiful heart, is kind, intelligent and strong.”

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What’s more, parents need to set positive examples. “It is important to remember that girls are watching us,” Choate points out. “Although many parents, particularly mothers,? are careful not to say anything critical to their daughters about their bodies, moms may not realize that their own frequent diets and complaints about their own bodies can be very damaging to their daughter’s developing body image.”

2. Low levels of perceived societal pressure. Women who internalize the pressure to attain society’s standards of beauty are most susceptible to body image issues and feeling dissatisfied with how they look.

“Media is one of the worst culprits,” Snapp warns. “If you know that some particular shows are going to put these images out there and make you feel bad, stop watching them.”

Find out more, up next.

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