October is Girls Month

Carmel Valley San Diego Community | Dr. Chrystal de Freitas | Teenage DaughterThis month’s post is dedicated to the moms (and dads) of teenage girls.  While we usually complain about this age group’s mood swings, angst-y attitudes and general rolling-of-the-eyes, it’s important to remember that the pressures on young females are complex and intense.  Yes, their opportunities for achievement are greater than ever before, but so are their risks.  This month we invite you to start a conversation with your daughter about the pressures she feels she is facing, as well as what she loves about being who she is.  In true Healthy Chats’ style, we’ve come up with some talking points to get the conversation rolling (often the hardest part).

  1. Watch the trailer for the movie Miss Representation.  Premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, and aired on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Miss Representation is a documentary spotlighting the false attitudes women – particularly young women – absorb from the media and society around them.  You can read more about it here. (Of course we encourage you to view the trailer independently first to ensure you’re comfortable sharing it with your daughter.)  The trailer and the full movie should you decide to watch it, shed some light on the big gap between the way women are portrayed and a healthy reality.  Ask your daughter if she related to the movie, what stood out to her, did she agree or disagree with what was presented?
  2. Check out the NOW Foundation – the National Organization of Women.  The Now Foundation has declared Wednesday, October 17th as national Love Your Body Day, part of their Love Your Body Campaign.  This campaign acknowledges the beauty industry and the media in general “tell women and girls that being admired, envied and desired based on their looks is a primary function of true womanhood.”  Ask your daughter what she thinks about the notion of ‘Love Your Body’ – what does that mean to her?  Does she or anyone she knows really not love their body?  What would it mean to have a healthy attitude towards your body, and why is a women’s organization emphasizing love of one’s own body?
  3. The website of international organization World Vision noted that the United Nations declared October 11th as International Day of the Girl, and posted the story about 15-year-old Suborna to celebrate.  Suborna lives in Bangladesh, and avoided underage marriage in lieu of furthering her education thanks in part to an intervention and sponsorship by the World Vision organization.

Now wait a minute – this girl is FIFTEEN!

Without the funds to pay for her schooling, her parents told her she would be married off.  This story brings up lots of talking points, even beyond the basics of where is Bangladesh and what is life for women like there?  For starters: how does it make you feel that a 15 year old girl wouldn’t be able to finish her education and have to get married?  How does it compare with your life choices?  Does it change the way you think about the challenges you face?  What about the challenges girls around the world face?

These examples from the media are only suggestions to pique your daughter’s interest in this subject matter.  With or without these campaigns, our hope this month is that you start a conversation with your teen about what she’s facing that may be challenging, upsetting, uplifting or empowering.  Let her know that you care about her perspective and what she’s going through.  Remind your daughter of all she has to feel good about, that you are there for her no matter what, and to hold herself to no ones standards but her own.

Enjoy your daughter and all the amazing girls in your life.

Carmel Valley San Diego Community | Dr. Chrystal de Freitas

Founder of Healthy Chats, Dr. Chrystal de Freitas is a pediatrician, author and mother of three children who has a special interest in health education. She completed her pediatric training at the University of Washington, in Seattle, WA, and has been in private practice for 22 years. She practiced with North County Health Services in Encinitas, for 6 years. In 2004, Dr. de Freitas opened her solo private practice of pediatrics, Carmel Valley Pediatrics in San Diego, CA.


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