By Erica Rood, M.A. Ed.

I have recently been reading a lot about girls’ self-esteem and come across some alarming statistics, which sadly highlight a plummet in how young girls think about themselves. For example, The Journal of Psychosocial Nursing reports that children as young as five are showing a preoccupation with body image and weight. Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty conducted a global study in 2005 and found that an overwhelming 70% of teenage girls who feel bad about their looks respond by withdrawing from life. They avoid school and feel afraid to speak up in class. PBS.org published similarly alarming numbers: 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner and 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat.

What’s going on?????

Self-esteem has everything to do with how we identify and evaluate ourselves. These statistics highlight the fact that young girls’ self-esteem is in danger. I believe media plays a prominent role in the development of a girl’s self-image. These days, there is no doubt that girls are drenched in media images that portray popular celebrities photo-shopped to perfection. No wonder girls worry about how they look. They are up against impossible standards. However, despite media saturation young girls are still deeply connected to their families and very often, it is their mom, not their favorite celebrity, who is the number one influence on self-esteem.

Moms have an opportunity to help their daughters develop a healthy body image and stronger sense of self. How? Through ongoing communication, modeling healthy habits, and sharing the practice of yoga!

Why yoga? Unlike competitive sports, yoga provides a safe place for girls to discover and develop strength in their bodies and minds without a fear of losing or failing. Yoga encourages tolerance and understanding, which I see as key components to maintaining positive self-esteem, especially in a world where expectations are high (often unreachable) and the tiniest imperfection can be criticized.

I am really excited about offering a unique opportunity for moms and their pre-teen daughters to share the practice of yoga and engage in meaningful conversations around topics like body image and self-esteem. Mother Daughter Yoga workshops involve creative movement and open, honest dialogue to help moms and daughters grow more connected and informed. These workshops will fill young girls’ self-esteem tank with positive messages while planting the seeds for healthy habits.