There seems to be no escape. Everywhere we go we’re bombarded with celebrity photos that scream subliminal and obvious messages: Look like this woman! Have thighs like her! This barrage of unrealistic body ideals cause many parents to worry about how these images negatively affect the self-image of their teenage daughters. Enter Alice Hart-Davis and her teen daughter Beth Hindhaugh, who have taken up the challenge to combat the trend with a new book called 100 Ways for Every Girl to Look and Feel Fantastic (Walker Books, £9.99).
“It’s an awful fact of life that teen girls have to get their head around—that while their parents and teachers are telling them that their value as human beings lies in who they are and what they do, the rest of the world seems to value women entirely according to their looks,” Ms. Hart-Davis said.
While the book offers beauty tips that every girl loves, like taking care of her skin, shaping her eyebrows, and learning some new eyeliner looks, it goes much farther. The authors have delved beyond the hair-skin-and-makeup part of beauty to really explore how looks are tied up with self-confidence and why this matters so much to us.
“We have all seen the reports of how good looking people are treated more kindly and get better-paid jobs than their less fortunate peers; of how those with whiter, straighter teeth are thought to be better educated and more honest than those with bad ones; of how the judgments we form about people are based mostly on what we think of how they look,” she said.
In addition to telling teenagers how to style their hair and try their hand at nail design, the book supports inner beauty and emotional well-being, from practicing being happy, to improving posture (it helps confidence) and working out who they are as individuals. “It’s a way of slipping in the messages about self-esteem by the back door, as it were. Girls may be keener on the pretty side of beauty, but the emotional support is there for when the time is right for them to turn to it,” Ms. Hart-Davis said.
The goal is that one day teen girls will close glossy magazines and walk past giant billboards with unattainable celebrity goals in lieu of being their own unique person. “The sooner they get comfortable with who they are and how they look, the sooner they can get on with the rest of their lives and/or ruling the world,” added Ms. Hart-Davis.
And if they can do it wearing perfectly applied lip gloss, so much the better.