"Mom, you're beautiful." That's what the vast majority — about 90% — of girls surveyed by KidsHealth had to say about their mothers. And the feeling is mutual: Just about as many moms tell their girls that they're beautiful.
On the flipside, though, only 41% of girls would call themselves "pretty" or "beautiful." Among moms, 60% say they're beautiful and 40% say they're not. More than half of moms say they've criticized their own appearance, many in front of their daughters. Of those who were self-critical, 76% said they complained out loud that they needed to lose weight. And roughly 50% of both moms and daughters don't like the way they look in a selfie.
In the KidsHealth survey, we heard from 2,400 moms and 11,500 daughters, many of whom had mixed feelings about the way they look. Finding so many similarities between how they view themselves makes you wonder: Like mother, like daughter?
"A mother's self-image greatly influences how her daughter views herself," says D'Arcy Lyness, PhD, a child and adolescent psychologist and behavioral health editor at KidsHealth. In the survey, many girls reported worrying about their looks a lot throughout the day, sometimes "constantly."
"All that concern over looks erodes a girl's self-esteem," Dr. Lyness says. "When girls are hard on themselves about how they look, it makes it difficult for them to love and accept themselves — and this prevents them from being and doing their best."
If you want to help improve your daughter's outlook, start with your own. Avoid criticizing how you look or how others look. Treat yourself well by eating right, exercising, and taking it easy on yourself. No one can live up to that unattainable image of beauty that many of us hold — but all of us can strive to feel mostly good about our looks most of the time.
Here are some more tips:
When girls (and moms) don't put too much focus on their looks, they can enjoy the more important parts of life that really count.
Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: May 2014
|ChooseMyPlate.gov ChooseMyPlate.gov provides practical information on how to follow the U.S. government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It includes resources and tools to help families lead healthier lives.|
|American Council on Exercise (ACE) ACE promotes active, healthy lifestyles by setting certification and education standards for fitness instructors and through ongoing public education about the importance of exercise.|
|GirlsHealth.gov GirlsHealth.gov, developed by the U.S. Office on Women's Health, offers girls between the ages of 10 and 16 information about growing up, food and fitness, and relationships.|
|I'm Growing Up - But Am I Normal? When you're growing up, lots of changes happen and everyone wonders: Am I normal?|
|Your Child's Weight "What's the right weight for my child?" is one of the most common questions parents have. It seems like a simple one, but it's not always easy to answer.|
|Am I Fat or Are My Eyes Playing Tricks? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|Is My Daughter Too Concerned With Her Looks? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|Body Dysmorphic Disorder For some people, worries about appearance become extreme and upsetting, interfering with their lives, a condition called body dysmorphic disorder.|
|How Can I Help My Child Develop Healthy Self-Esteem? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|Raising Confident Kids It takes confidence to be a kid. And while each child is a little different, parents can follow some general guidelines to build kids' confidence.|
|How Can I Stop Focusing on My Flaws? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|What Kids Say About: Weight We wanted to know what kids have to say about weight problems, so we asked more than 1,000 boys and girls. Find out what they said.|
|What Being Overweight Means Being overweight has become a serious problem for many kids and adults. Find out what it means to be overweight in this article just for kids.|
|What Girls Say About: The Pressure to Be Pretty We asked more than 11,000 girls how they felt about their looks. Find out what they said!|
|My Child May Have an Eating Disorder -- What Can I Do? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|Talking to Your Daughter About Puberty Help your daughter prepare for the changes that puberty will bring before she takes her first steps toward adulthood.|
|Kids and Eating Disorders Eating too little or deliberately throwing up after eating are two serious kinds of eating disorders. Find out more in this article for kids.|
|Body Image and Self-Esteem When your body changes, so can your image of yourself. Find out how your body image affects your self-esteem and what you can do.|
|Encouraging a Healthy Body Image A healthy and positive body image means liking your body, appreciating it, and feeling grateful for its qualities and capabilities. Parents can help kids develop a healthy body image.|
|Plastic Surgery Lots of images may come to mind when you think of plastic surgery. This special type of surgery involves a person's appearance and ability to function.|
|How Can I Feel Better About My Body? It's normal to wish you could change something about your body. Find out more about these feelings in this article for kids.|
|Is Dieting OK for Kids? What is dieting and should kids do it, too? Find out in this article for kids.|
What to expect when coming to Akron Children's
For healthcare providers and nurses
Residency & Fellowships, Medical Students, Nursing and Allied Health
For prospective employees and career-seekers
Our online community that provides inspirational stories and helpful information.