How Do I Teach My Daughter That She Is More Than The Sum Total Of Her Appearance?

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There isn’t a day that goes by where there isn’t some mention of plus size women in the media, and it seems the era of the plus size model is upon us. Ashley Graham, Robyn Lawley, girls who are regular sized, by mere mortal standards, have been plugging away, trying to get the fashion industry to change their views on what a ‘normal’ body looks like. But sadly the plus size moniker is here to stay.

Which makes me question what kind of a world we live in, where the fashion industry, the industry teenage girls most admire and aspire to be a part of, tells them, that if they’re a size 12, they are considered plus size?

I am 6ft 2 and slender (bar the bump). But I’m a still a size 12. My bone structure wouldn’t allow me to squeeze into a smaller size, it’s just not physically possible. And yet according to the fashion powers that be, because my body doesn’t conform to their impossibly skinny standards, I must be outsized.

It is worth bearing in mind here, that being too thin is just as detrimental to one’s health, as being too fat, but that is a discussion for another day.

The war on self-esteem

We live in an age of social media, where our daily lives are played out and laid out for all to see, criticise and judge. If we’re not careful, the next generation of young women, and the ones that follow, are going to see an epidemic of low self esteem, requiring considerable investment in our mental health services, in order to combat the ongoing war.

And I don’t mean a physical war.

I mean the one that every teenager ever, has at one time or another faced: the war with the mirror.

Only this time it isn’t just them harshly critiquing their appearance, it is whichever Tom, Dick or Harry happens to be trolling them that day, and decides to leave an unhelpful comment or suggestion on a shared photo.

Our responsibility as parents

And it’s troubling me already. This niggling little worm of concern that in 15, 12 maybe only 10 years time, I’m going to potentially have a daughter who believes that her self worth and place in this society is determined solely by her appearance, because that is what she and her peers believe they should judge each other on.

So our list of responsibilities as parents (and soon to be parents) grows ever daily. I’m prepping myself to teach my daughter, from the off, that there are so many more desirable qualities a person can possess that rank so far above pretty, or what society deems as socially acceptable in terms of the ideal body size, that they make pretty look, well, pretty insignificant.

I will encourage her to be strong, to be independent, to be kind, to be healthy, to be considerate and to stand up for herself.

I won’t just tell her she is these things. Instead I will try to find a way to let her discover them for herself, and to encourage her to work hard at being a decent human being. Because, for me, that is what is important.

But going back to my rant about clothes sizes, if the average woman is a size 16, surely anything above that is plus sized, not below? It’s just moronic, sheer insanity to suggest that a size 12 is anything other than healthy. It’s one step away from ensuring an entire generation of (already easily influenced) young women develop mental health issues, stemming from genuinely believing that they are overweight, because the fashion industry tells them so.