My sweet little thing is turning 12 in a month, and this girl is changing! Not only emotionally, but physically. A couple of months back, her friends started wearing training bras, so needless to say, she needed to get one too. The funny part is, I happened to be excited, whether I believed she needed one or not. I was happy she came to me and asked. It was something I didn't do.
I fought the puberty thing each step regarding the way. Things have changed for my baby girl. Puberty is wanted now. These girls are embracing it, and generally rushing it. When we arrived at our local Walmart's training bra section, abd I noticed something very different than the thing I had to go through as a pubescent girl: These bras were sexy. My 11-year-old daughter wanted a bra, and all of them were sexy!
Now let's be completely honest here: No one wants their 11-year-old in a sexy anything! I was so frustrated that there was clearly even a market for it, and there were quite a few. As we looked through the racks, I noticed that there were some sports training bras, and I picked those. In that moment, I discovered myself wondering just how to explain to her that I thought these other bras were inappropriate for a girl her age, when she could so clearly see them tagged ages 10-12.
Adolescent girls are feeling more pressure from the media to live up to various sexual ideals. Our pre-teen girls are being confronted with more pressure than ever to be "sexy." The media establishes a false sense of what girls and women should look like and act like. According to the Mental Health Foundation's report, "A Generation Under Stress," two in five girls felt worse about themselves after viewing images of models and celebrities in magazines. Girls feel that they are being forced to act more adult, and to engage in sexual behaviors before they are ready to do so. It scares me to death. Mothers, we can help change this.
Make it possible for your daughter to take risks and let her know that failure isn't the end of the entire world. Encourage her to take risks that are mental or physical—preferably both. A girl who pushes past her comfort zone learns that her abilities aren't as limited as she could have feared, and that can make her feel that she can accomplish whatever she sets out to do. Reassure her that failures are an inevitable part of trying anything new, but that failing—and then trying again—is what's going to eventually lead to success.
Show your daughter you accept your own personal body as it is, along with all its flaws. Constantly obsessing regarding your own weight and appearance—or hers—sends a bad message, that she is only valuable if she is thin and pretty. Focus instead on living a fit and healthy lifestyle, and model healthy and balanced eating choices rather than nagging her to lay off the soda and chips. Dress in professional, comfortable or casual style instead of spending hours obsessing over makeup or shoehorning yourself into tight garments designed to aid make you appear "sexy." As a mother, you are the very first and most significant influence on your own daughter's behavior as well as her body image.
I love my soon-to-be woman, and I want her to know that she does not have to rush it. She is a strong, smart, funny, and loving girl. I will be sure to try my best, to follow my own advice. But I, too, fall into the constraints of what the media wants me to be.
More from parenting