Smashing The Beauty Myth for the Instagram Generation

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Mother and Daughter

Gone are the days of our young teens receiving basket of makeup when they “come of age” and lessons from mum on how to apply it.

Today, young girls can access all of their information online. From what to wear, how to talk, how to do their makeup – and of course how to take a million photos of themselves. There’s a product to do absolutely anything out there, and someone eager to sell it to us.

There’s a teenage you tube channel or Instagram page dedicated to everything on how to be perfect, and beautiful. Our girls don’t have to ask mum, and they don’t even have to ask their friends. They can be “effortlessly” beautiful. It can be a private process taken on between them and 8,000 other likers of an Instagram page or You-tube channel.

But where does that leave our young girls, and their mums in this race to become picture perfect?

It seems our girls are beautiful on the surface, and worn out inside – and their mums are wondering how they got there. If Instagram sensation, Essena O’Neill is testament enough, we drastically need to step in to help our teenage girls.

Ms O’Neill publicly quit Instagram recently, leaving behind her 612,000 followers, and the lucrative sponsorship deals she had secured. The pressure to be perfect had simply become too much.

“I just want younger girls to know this isn’t candid life, or cool or inspirational. It’s contrived perfection made to get attention,” Ms O’Neill captioned under one of her Instagram photos.

“If you find yourself looking at “Instagram girls” and wishing your life was there’s [theirs] realise you only see what they want,” she adds in another caption.

The new Instagram beauty bible is putting our young girls at risk of not only burn out, but serious image problems as a result. Teenage girls are always going to be susceptible to body image issues, because they are young girls, at an impressionable age, and eager for self-acceptance.

So why let them loose with wolves on the internet, to search for validation elsewhere?

The fact of the matter is, we have no choice. Social media, internet, it’s all here to stay.

Instead as parents we need to step in and become involved in helping shape our daughters’ beauty choices, rather than stand in judgement, or confusion about them. In their race to be perfectly beautiful, girls are missing learning the fundamentals of feminine self-worth – a skill passed down from mother to daughter not from Instagram sensation to vulnerable child.

As a beauty educator who runs workshops that many mothers and daughters attend regularly, I see just what’s going on between them, and how they can be helped by mucking in and learning together. It’s difficult to talk to a teenager who ‘knows it all’ but it is well worth attempting to break through.

Here’s my top 5 tips for smashing that hold Social Media has on our girls:

  1. Get involved. You were young once too. Remember how great it was to talk about and think about beauty and fashion? Take her to the movies, take her out shopping for the day. Browse the aisles, look at makeup and have a fun time. Tell her what you think would suit her. Tell her what you think suits you. Make sure she understands that everyone is different.
  2. Lighten up mum! Don’t take it all too seriously. Ten selfies is pretty normal for girls these days, and probably doesn’t require an intervention.
  3. Make your advice snappy. Giving long lectures on body image is not what she wants, nor what she’s used to. Softly, softly throw in some cracker lines she can store away. Make your advice as short, sharp and appealing as a status update or an Instagram hashtag.
  4. Help her find an appropriate makeup, skincare, and exercise routine to suit her. You can outsource this, but remember, to do this with Steer her away from looking to the internet for validation on running her own body. Focus on real beauty, and real health.
  5. Self-talk is gold. Show your daughter that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and we can always find something nice to say about ourselves, and somebody else. Everyone has something they may want to disguise about themselves – a long nose, fat thighs, or curly hair as well as something they love – a ‘Roman’ nose, curvy thighs, or ‘Nicole Kidman’ hair. It’s all relative. Remember you are the greatest example in this area. I see so many mums putting themselves down in front of their girls. Set a great example of self-love your daughter can learn from.

By doing things together, you can be part of your daughter’s solution rather than standing in conflict.

Here’s to raising beautiful girls, inside and out.