If you ask mothers and fathers what the single most important characteristic they can instill in their children is, many parents would answer, “confidence.” Studies have shown that when kids feel confident, they are more likely to succeed in school, achieve personal goals and have secure and positive relationships with others.
During adolescence and pubertal development, there are considerable gender differences in self-esteem and body image between boys and girls. Adolescent girls report more dissatisfaction with their bodies than boys. Body dissatisfaction can have physical and emotional consequences that lead to poor health outcomes, including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.
There is a tremendous amount of pressure on girls as they develop to look a certain way. Girls are bombarded with thousands of media images portraying the ideal body type by the time they reach middle school. From TikTok to Instagram, influencers, fashion models, and even Disney shows are filled with images of ideal female bodies. It’s no wonder that eight out of 10 females are dissatisfied with their bodies and want to lose weight.
We know bodies come in all shapes and sizes and develop at different paces. At puberty and beyond, it is the job of parents to stress the importance of body acceptance. This will promote a strong sense of self-esteem and confidence.
Build confidence and self-esteem in girls by providing them with clothing that supports their developing bodies. All too often, parents are faced with very few options, many of which are exploitative rather than uplifting and supportive. When it comes to breast development, girls are often self-conscious and acutely aware of their body’s changes. Parents can feel good about introducing positive body image Sports Bras like SHEFIT that are scientifically proven to reduce bounce and protect the body from discomfort. Removing the worry or concern about breast changes can increase focus and performance in girls and increase their sense of confidence and accomplishment. Clothing should be designed to support, not to exploit, and our girls deserve it.
Agam R, Tamir S, Golan M (2015) Gender Differences in Respect to Self-Esteem and Body Image as Well as Response to Adolescent's School-Based Prevention Programs. J Psychol Clin Psychiatry 2(5): 00092.
Jennifer Wider, MD, is a nationally renowned women’s health expert, author and radio host. She is the author of four books, including "The Savvy Woman Patient," "The Doctor’s Complete College Girls’ Health Guide," "The New Mom’s Survival Guide" and "Got Teens? The Doctor Moms’ Guide to Sexuality, Social Media and Other Adolescent Realities."