Think about yourself. How do you feel about yourself? Pretty? Strong? Chubby? Accomplished? Your perception of yourself takes shape at a very young age and Dove’s latest campaign “Real Beauty Sketches
” represents how long-term the effects are.
If you haven’t seen the video yet, the gist is that a group of women have their portrait done by a police sketch artist using their own descriptions of themselves. Then, each woman is paired with a stranger, who then meet with the sketch artist and describe the woman they’ve just met. The results are a huge lesson in the difference between the women’s perception of themselves compared to how the strangers perceive them.
“The woman who says, ‘my mom told me I had a big jaw,’ really sticks out to me,” said Children’s National psychologist Eleanor Mackey, PhD
. “Parents need to remember that what they say has a huge impact on their kids.” Mackey said that children’s perceptions are shaped at a very early age and parents can never tell whether or not what they tell their child will stick.
“It’s remarkable how early it happens. I didn’t think she’d care, but our daughter became really particular about how she looked at age 2 – and we tried hard not to focus on that,” said Mackey. “Kids at an early age learn that how they appear is important, so I think learning to praise your kids for the things they do, like how helpful they are, and not focus on how they look, is very important.”
Another way to help your child feel good about the way she looks is to teach her to challenge what magazines and newspapers tell them is pretty.
“Listen for when your kids are saying something or look in a news story. The pictures we see aren’t always reality, especially when people try to sell us something,” said Mackey. “If you really help them challenge what they see, then you’ll help set them up for success because they won’t be taken in by marketing campaigns or other people who are making them feel bad for not fitting a mold.”
Lastly, the best way to help shape a positive perception is being positive about yourself. Mackey said instead of saying, “I have a fat face,” talk about how you feel, like “I feel great when I have extra time to get ready in the morning.”
“It’s good to watch the [Dove] video and remind yourself that kids pick up everything you say. And that kids pick up what you’ve said about your own appearance,” said Mackey. “Tell kids the best thing may seem to be like everyone else, but in the end it’s the things that make you different that are really wonderful and will carry you through life.”