Promoting body positivity & self-esteem in girls

February 03, 2022 4 min read

Girls who are coming of age now have more opportunity than ever before, but they’re also exposed to an incredible amount of pressure to look, act and carry themselves in a certain way (looking at you Instagram!)

There's no time like the present to actively build and promote body positivity and self-esteem in our young girls. We've put together some tips to help you work with your girl to build her confidence and help her appreciate the beauty of her individuality.

Spread Feel Good Vibes

Studies have shown that giving or receiving compliments activates the same part of your brain, – the striatum – that money and gifts does, indicating that compliments can motivate people to feel and work better. 

It's also said that sending positive vibes can release the neurotransmitter dopamine - the ‘feel-good’ chemical in your brain associated with focus, happiness and motivation. 

This is the same endorphin that is released when exercising or listening to music.

If speaking kindly to plants helps them grow, imagine what speaking kindly to humans can do! 

Positive reinforcement isn't a new technique, of course, but it's important to note that the way she processes compliments is a neurological response - it's not just an ego boost. 

Given this is the case, it's really important to be mindful when complimenting your daughter’s physical appearance. If she starts to make a connection between her appearance and the feel-good, motivating charge she gets when she's complimented, it can lead to perfectionism, body consciousness and all the other insidious feelings and behaviours that come from being focused on your outward appearance to gain acceptance and adoration.

Harness the constructive side of her brain's response to compliments by celebrating who she is and what she does in the world - rather than her physical attributes. In doing so, you'll build her pride in her achievements, creativity, diligence, humour, passion, energy, etc. which will go a long way to helping her love who she is deep down.

Share Similarities; Celebrate Differences 

Everyone looks different – whether it be their skin tone, height, weight, birthmarks, visible disabilities or any other number of distinguishing features. These features are what make us unique –  and trust us, that’s a good thing. Girl Scouts Developmental Psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald sums this up perfectly–

“we’re all different in so many ways, and it’s counterproductive to pretend that we’re not.”

Educate your daughter about diversity, and one of the best ways to do this, is by practising what you preach. As parents we have a responsibility to guide our children in the right direction. So it’s important that we can all be proud of your own bodies as adults. Everyone is different and this is something to be celebrated not shunned, make body diversity normal and open for discussion.

Teach your girl to love her long legs that help her run, her strong shoulders that help her swim and her height that helps her shoot that winning goal when playing netball.

World champion tennis player and all-round role model Serena Williams penned an open letter to her mother, praising her for being the strongest woman she knows. “We are curvy, strong, muscular, tall, small, just to name a few, and all the same: we are women and proud!”, Williams reflected.

How’s that for some self lovin’ inspiration? 

Praise the Effort, Not the Result 

Focus less on the outcome of your girl’s efforts, but rather on the development of her new skills. Encourage her to try her hand at whatever sport or physical activity she likes. Whether it be water polo or walking, team sports or simply going to the gym, physical activity is the best way to help your daughter develop healthy habits and build confidence.

The Women’s Sport Foundation research concluded that girls and women who play sports have higher levels of confidence and self-esteem and lower levels of depression. They also have a more positive body image and experience higher states of psychological well being than girls and women who did not play sports.



Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

A study conducted by the NSW Government and the University of Sydney found a positive link between playing sports and increased confidence, body image, academic performance and personal relationships. It’s team sports, such as soccer, netball or basketball, that help young girls build self-confidence.

By being part of a team, she develops skills and has an effective way to set goals. Whilst the occasional win can help her confidence surge, it’s losing that can often teach us so much. It allows girls to build self-assuredness, and the right skills needed to work through struggles and the feelings associated with defeat.

Team sport participation also aids girls to develop social skills and friendships, and the confidence to look inwards for validation, rather than looking for it from others. 

Confidence Shines Brightly

At Lava Tribe Girls Activewear, we know that strong, confident girls are empowered girls. Let's help our girls love the body they’re in, appreciate what it can do for them and celebrate how it's different from others.

After all, confidence will always shine more brightly than any Snapchat filter or Sephora illuminator.

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