Helping your teen see herself as beautiful

Updated: Sep 25, 2019

So much has been written about the impact social media can have on teenagers and the pressure it puts on some girls.

There is the continuous popularity contest that is Instagram and the count of how many "likes" a photo gets - there for all the world to see and judge.

Then there are the masses of YouTubers instructing them on how to do hair, makeup, fashion, etc.

Add to that the pressure coming from "reality" tv programs like Love Island, Made in Chelsea, Ex on the Beach, and Geordie Shore, and you can see it's relentless.

With this being pumped out 24/7, it can be difficult for a teenage girl to keep her own counsel and believe that she is beautiful just as she is.

So many girls think they need a filter on their photos to make them look acceptable for social media, but that can have a deep impact when she looks in the mirror and the filter isn't there.

How does she learn to accept and love what she sees in the mirror?

How can parents prevent their teenager losing confidence when they don't see Britain's Next Top Model looking back at them in the mirror?

Well, one parent recently asked me to give her daughter a makeover shoot to help her see how truly beautiful she is, and I knew this was something I could help her with.

The young lady turned up looking slightly awkward, saying "I'll warn you I'm a bit of a Goth girl".

"I'll warn you I'm a bit of a Goth girl"

Cue the wonderful makeup artist, Sue, stepping in, embracing the Goth mood and running with it. She didn't try to make her look like a Kardashian or give her a "standard" look. She highlighted her eyes and lips, playing with the Goth look which really suited her, including trying four different shades of lipstick until they found one they both agreed was perfect.

After she had her hair styled as she wanted it (curls), it was down to me and her to get on with the shoot. Once we had a few photos in the camera, I took her over to the big screen to show her what we were getting - and she was so pleased.

She could see that she looked fantastic and her fears of being a bit overweight and unattractive melted away as she realised she was neither.

"Oooh, I LOVE the red eyeshadow!" was her reaction when she looked in the mirror

We agreed that she should look at these photos regularly to remind herself that she IS gorgeous, just as she is. She has her own style, her own flair, and her own look which is stunning.

With Guns 'n' Roses playing in the background (her choice), we finished the shoot with a few outdoor shots before her mum returned to collect her. The three of us looked at the photos together to cries of "oh, I love that one!" and "oh, I think that one's my favourite!" before they drove off really looking forward to seeing the edited photos.

We finished up with a few shots outdoors and in a nearby barn.

This photo shoot experience is called "rewriting the narrative", and can help at any age, but is particularly effective with teens who are often more vulnerable about their looks as they go through the transition from child to adult.

Taking photos to tell a specific story, e.g. "I am beautiful", "I am happy", "I actually quite like being me", is a very powerful way to reinforce the message that our young people are absolutely good enough.

They don't need to be somebody else. They don't need to look like anybody else.

They are perfectly imperfect and beautiful just as they are.

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