According to the National Eating Disorders Association, body image concerns often begin at a young age. “By age 6, girls especially start to express concerns about their own weight or shape, and 40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat. (Smolak, 2011). Furthermore, over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives (Neumark- Sztainer, 2005).”
These are the facts we are up against. Girls are more at risk than boys for eating disorders. The number of girls suffering from negative body image is on the rise. And these rising numbers reveal that our young women need help understanding that they are valuable and dear to us.
But how can we get our young women to understand how we see them? What can we do to guide them into believing they are beautiful and lovely and breathtaking because God made them that way?
In my own journey toward establishing healthy body image, I have found encouragement from reading good books that promote body positivity. I think this might encourage our daughters, nieces, goddaughters, and granddaughters, too.
My friend, Stephanie, recommended these books and I think they make great reads for girls between 8-12 years old. I’ve been pouring through them this last week. They are well-written books and convey what we hope our daughters believe about themselves. And, not surprisingly, as I read a few out loud, I found myself reminded of a few truths I needed to hear for myself. Enjoy!
Writer Dani Coplen and Spanish artist Natalia De Frutos nailed it with Pretty! Bright, saturated images paired with genuine encouragement will speak directly to your daughter’s heart. This book will challenge her (and maybe you) to see “pretty” in a whole new way. This picture book is a gift, and it should find a place on your bookshelf.
I love the very first page….
“Hello, beautiful girl.
Do you know how lucky you are?
Why? Because you were born a girl!
And as a girl, you have been given special gifts
that will bloom as you do.”
Written by Christiane Northrup, M.D., Beautiful Girl explores the responsibilities, changes, and gifts that come from being a girl. Her message gently guides young women toward body kindness. I especially appreciate how she closes the book, uniting daughters and mothers and sisters and girlfriends for the sake of strength and love.
The more I read about Sydney’s thoughts, the more I thought: Am I Sydney?
Let’s face it. Women, younger and older, are inundated with messaging that tempts us to believe all kinds of ridiculous things. We might even find that we are giving up who we are in exchange for being accepted by the cool girls. Messages About Me challenges cultural norms, and for that reason, it is worth the read.
When we choose to identify lies and replace them with the truth, we can choose to change the way we think. Lies Girls Believe is an approachable book that invites young women to see themselves in light of God’s love for them. Relationships with parents, friends, teachers, and even siblings are addressed, which makes this book a helpful tool for any young woman who wants to believe she is more than what the world tells her.
In future weeks, I’ll be reviewing book for older girls, specifically teens. Any feedback you have on these? I’d love to hear it here. I hope you (and your favorite girl) enjoy these summer reads.