Teens told to take lead
Standing in front of the mirror your daughter perfects her pout as she smoothes a fitted blouse over her slim tummy.
Breathing in and posing at different angles, she continues to enquire as to why she can’t have false eyelashes explaining for the 50th time that all her friends have them and you’re just determined to make her stand out from the crowd.
We’ve all experienced the pain of puberty, the angst of those teenage years and the overwhelming need to be just like our friends. And while many of us maintain our teens were the best years, would we really want to go back the days when just ‘fitting in’ was often the most important thing in our day?
Determined to make school days easier for young girls struggling with their identity, former teacher and owner of the Live. Learn. Style consultancy, Rebecca Foley holds classes to help teens take pride in their individuality.
Explaining how she decided to focus on the youth after having a baby, Rebecca says she wants to help teens learn to appreciate and love the way they look.
“After my pregnancy I suffered with low self-esteem and it made me think, the two times in my life when I had the lowest self-esteem were pregnancy and when I was a teenager.”
Rebecca adds: “It’s all to do with your body shape changing and you just not knowing how to dress for that shape. I did a lot of research into it, there’s lots of TV programmes in the UK and Australia to do with body image but there’s nothing like that here. I was reading a story in the paper about body image pushing teenage girls to suicide in the UAE so I thought I could write a course for these girls to help them.”
Rebecca’s courses aim to help young women develop their personal identity, guide them in building greater self-confidence and portraying this through their image. Some of the topics covered include dressing for your body shape, age appropriate make-up, dress codes, social etiquette, speech and deportment.
But in a society littered with celebrity idols, just how easy is it to reassure teenage girls that they’re beautiful if they don’t have Paris Hilton’s hair or a waist like Selena Gomez?
“We give them statistics about how only five per cent of the population has the body of a model and we have this activity where we put pictures up of different women and we ask them to pick out who they think looks good,” explains Rebecca. “We have pictures of women who don’t have an ideal body but are dressing well for their body.
“We find they’ll always pick women who look good in their clothing and have a smile on their face portraying this confident look.” While teens will always want to follow fashion, Rebecca wants to show them how to do it in true style and not simply copy their friends.
She says: “We’re trying to teach girls not to follow fashion trends. Obviously it’s good to be a bit fashionable, but find a way to do it that suits you.
“For example with the jewel trends that are in this season, choose ones that go with your skin tone and remember, when fashions come out, adapt them to suit your shape.
Identify your body shape and learn what clothes look good. In the course we even look at what clothes suit particular face shapes, illusion dressing - hiding those bits we don’t like. We’re realists and we want kids to be realists as well. You’re not a size zero but that’s OK because if you dress for your shape you’ll look good anyway.”
Rebecca has courses beginning this week at Bo House Cafe on JBR Walk.
For details call 04 451 8958 or see www.lls.ae
BEATING BODY HANG-UPS
If you’re concerned about your daughter’s perception of herself, try out these tips to help boost her self-esteem...
>> Be aware of what the celebrity world considers the ideal body image to be and try and teach your daughter a more realistic view. Remind them that less than five per cent of the population actually has the body of a catwalk model.
>> Take note of, and be willing to confront, the way female form is discussed in your home - be careful of the emphasis you might put on looking a certain way.
>> Help your daughter learn to accept who she is by finding all the wonderful and unique things about her. Ask her to find three new things she likes about herself each time she looks in the mirror.
>> Talk to your daughter openly about the way she feels she looks but encourage her to be less of a critic and focus more on her positive attributes.
>> Encourage your daughter to take care of herself on the outside as well as the inside. Making yourself look good makes you feel good but unfortunately girls with low self-esteem often don’t feel they are worth the effort or simply don’t know where to start.
>> Encourage your daughter to dress for her shape. Remind her you don’t need to be super thin to look good in your clothes.