I partnered with Megan Media and DOVE to share the very positive #SpeakBeautiful Squad campaign! The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.
My six-year-old daughter, The Princess Fairy, is my Shero! She loves ballet and soccer and is even getting into music now that she’s taking violin lessons. She’s compassionate and filled with love, and I’ve never heard her say anything negative about another kid, or about anyone for that matter. Of course, she’s not perfect, but as corny as it sounds, she’s the perfect daughter for me.
But I worry about my sweet girl. I worry daily that her sweet spirit would be broken the way mine was when I was a little girl. I worry that she would encounter friends who speak from a place of fear and discouragement instead of a place of love. But as we all know, worrying doesn’t make a difference in the world.
So I thought about it, and I realized that we, as mothers, can do something: we can teach our daughters to speak beautiful. Our daughters could boost the self-esteem of their friends, and in turn, their friends could do the same for them. This is the world in which I want my daughter to grow up.
Too bad it wasn’t this way when I was growing up. It was actually quite the opposite. In 1993, I experienced the growth spurt of growth spurts. I’m not sure if I ever grew again after that, because I am only 5’7″, but I will tell you what, I was taller than some teachers, parents (even some dads), and most of my class.
Once my classmates noticed, they started to call me Giraffe immediately. Back then, we would line up at school according to our height, and I would always feel left out at the back of the line, standing amongst the boys. It made me feel like I was different from the other girls and that I didn’t belong. I would watch all of them at the front, talking and laughing with each other, and I would feel alone.
My height was the first thing that kids in my school would address whenever they saw me. While my family was very reassuring and loving at home (my mom LOVES being tall) the name-calling grew to include other names such as Palm Tree; the most hurtful of all was TTT – Tall, Thin and Terrible. I responded by pulling away. I would stay in my class and draw during my lunch break instead of going outside to play. I had gotten to the point where I was more excited to go home than to go to school. I would even try to slouch to appear shorter and blend in, but of course, that never worked. I don’t recall another kid ever saying a positive thing to me about my height back then. I had friends, but we never discussed my height. Looking back now, I know it would have had a huge impact on my self-esteem at that age if I had a classmate who would have spoken beautifully to me.
As a mom, I am encouraging my daughter to speak beautiful to her friends, and the best way for me to do that is to speak beautiful about the women in my life in her presence. Just like me, The Princess Fairy is a tall girl, and I am grateful that my experience in 1993 is far different from her experience in 2016. I’ve taught her to love herself, especially the things that make her different. But more importantly, I am now teaching her to speak beautiful, give her friends high-fives, and cheer them on to boost their self-esteem!
As our girls grow older, they can shine their light of positivity to change the social media landscape that can so easily threaten self-esteem. According to Dove, “72% of girls encounter negative beauty posts, comments, snaps, videos or photos that are damaging to their self-esteem on a weekly basis.” Dove also found that “girls want social media to be a platform that can provide them with positivity and support rather than negativity and defeat.” I believe that we can transform the conversations on these platforms by encouraging others with kind comments, not reposting memes or images that make fun of others and not tearing other women apart under the guise of “constructive criticism.”
What’s fantastic is that we don’t have to do it alone! Dove is joining forces with some of my favorite women online and some of the most powerful voices in body confidence, Jeannette Kaplun (@JeannetteKaplun), Ariel Winter (@arielwinter1), Franchesca Ramsey (@chescaleigh) and Vanessa Van Edwards (@vvanedwards), to form a #SpeakBeautiful Squad. I’m really excited about this positive initiative, as they will be helping our children, the next generation, navigate some of the most pressing issues facing girls on social media, such as cyberbullying and body shaming by offering tips and advice.
Each member of the #SpeakBeautiful Squad will provide resources, best practices and personal tips to address online barriers to a girl’s self-esteem. They will arm girls with information on how to spot cyberbullying, how to form friendship circles online and in real life for self-protection, as well as how to navigate negative commentary about beauty and body image.
— Dove (@Dove) October 17, 2016
Starting October 20th, visit @Dove on Twitter to receive advice and exercises from the #SpeakBeautiful Squad on how to navigate the negativity on social media.
I’m so glad that the Dove Self-Esteem Project is doing this amazing #SpeakBeautiful campaign to encourage everyone to #SpeakBeautiful online so that social media can be transformed into a place where our girls can feel supported and empowered. Let’s all join in and #SpeakBeautiful with the #SpeakBeautiful Squad.