Reflections of Your Teen Spirit:The Importance of Visual Image Cues

Studio 5 Beauty & Style Contributor Holly Stone explains how we can show young women image is important.

How you look affects the way you think and feel,how you act and the way other people act towards you. This statement cannot be stressed enough. Your visual appearance says many things about you even though you may not be saying a word. There is pressure from media influence everywhere showing the youth what is “beautiful”. Generally the message is centered around brand labels and fashion trends, whether it be jeans worn far below the waistline and super skinny, low cut shirts, sleeveless tops, dark eye makeup, or unruly hair. The message behind these provocative looks is to entice the youth to buy a brand. It is an intentional shock factor. And it is alluring the youth of all ages to look…and buy.

However, there is a voice that speaks loudly and it is one of love, and concern. Yes, mom is the last one a teenage daughter wants to take advice from if in the form of nagging and you can’t and shouldn’t. What if the message becomes, “let’s find some options together”, or ‘that’s good, but let’s find the better or the best”. Teens will tune out the don’ts. Shock them and befriend them by providing several do’s.

1) Time=Success
Take the time and plan for as much as possible. Shopping with a teen can be frustrating and exhausting. Make it fun the best you can. Sit down before going out and ask your child what are her top 7 favorite qualities about herself? Then make a game of trying to find articles of clothing that express those qualities. You will get to know a lot about your child and she may learn a few things about herself. If you find either of you are getting frustrated, take a break, grab a treat, talk about anything BUT clothes, and then tackle it again.

2) More Than Just A Shirt
Clothing and fashion can express an extension of mind, body and spirit. Your choice of clothing talks! Mom, Play a charades game with moods. Just with body language, have your teen guess your mood by acting out anger, boredom, shyness, joy etc. Let them know that they way they dress becomes a part of their body language. If they are in sloppy sweats or baggy clothes, their posture may reflect boredom or “I am slow, I don’t have motivation to try”. It may also allow them to act in a way they normally wouldn’t by giving them an excuse to be careless.Low cut shirts or skin tight jeans say “I am self conscious and don’t know how to express who I really am, so I will show you things that are easy to show. Or I share my body with others” If your mind is sharp and creative, if your body is able and willing, if your spirit is tender or free, recognize that these wonderful characteristics could be hidden by the choice of clothing. Encourage the positives to come out with bright colors, cute accessories, or expressive combinations.

3) It Is Only Black Eyeliner
Rips, tears, scuffs, stains orblack eye makeup say many things: “I am sloppy, I don’t care about myself. I don’t care about you. I cut corners. I don’t do my best. I am not reliable, I am hiding, I am not creative, and I don’t want you to see the best I can be” Believe it or not, all these things could be judged about a person just from a scuffed or ripped pair of tennis shoes or jeans or by poorly applied makeup. Mom, Try holding up 2 shirts side by side, one with a big stain on it, the other normal. Ask what draws their attention and ask why. Then ask what might be thought of the person wearing that stained shirt. You could do the same comparison holding up a nicer pair of tennis shoes or a worn and torn pair of tennis shoes. Just be sure that the shirt and shoes you are using for the object lesson ARE NOT your daughters. You don’t want there to be an association or feeling of judgment which would immediately put her on the defensive. Take a blank piece of paper with light pretty colors on it, and then a paper with 2 big black circles. Ask how each one makes her feel when looking at it, and then let her know that by letting a softer face shine through, people will see her beautiful spirit instead of getting stopped at her extreme make up. This doesn’t mean no makeup, just make up applied correctly and using the right colors. Use clothing to express with bright colors and the face to express the creativity of knowing how to look your best.

4) Scribble Pads Are A Staple
Many youth today are using their bodies as a notebook. By using your hands or arms as a place to doodle, write information or messages,or to remember things you could possibly communicate to others; 1) you are not intelligent enough to tell the difference between a note pad and skin, 2) you are not organized or resourceful to have important school necessities available 3) you don’t care about your body by keeping it clean and may do other things to do to hurt it 4) you might be a cheater, 5) you are asking people to look and give you attention instead of letting your true beauty shine through and attract attention. All these messages may not be true or what you are THINKING, but writing on the body speaks loudly. Mom, take your daughter to pick out a cute “note pad” that is only for writing notes or special social or personal information. Make it small enough that she can have it anywhere she might need to write a phone number or friend’s b-day down. Let her choose the design that is reflective of her personality and encourage her to let it capture her brain overflow.

5) Modesty IS Fashionable
Modesty isn’t just about not showing a lot of skin. It is about getting to know your body and finding the types of clothes that look the best on it. It is about telling those around you how smart, creative, kind, and fun you are by how you choose to dress. It is about showing your teachers, and your peers that you care about them. Mom, find an opportunity EVERY DAY to identify and call out specific strengths your daughters has and ALSO suggest ways she has or ways she could portray these great strengths. Encourage her inner power daily!
Just because something is trendy for that season doesn’t mean you have to wear it. You want to portray a girl who always looks put together rather than a girl who looks like somebody else put her together. YOU are the best version of you, better than any imitated version of someone else. OWN WHO YOU ARE and express the goodness inside. We all have different bodies, different situations and backgrounds and we all have different personalities. It would be a boring world it we all tried to be the same. If a style doesn’t look good or even more importantly FEEL good on your body, then it will NEVER be trendy for you. This is modesty and this is OK!! You wouldn’t force yourself to eat 5 day old pizza, so don’t force yourself into a pair of pants that are just too tight. Beauty comes from being confident with your strengths AND your weaknesses. Don’t let your weakness show on your sleeve instead, let your strengths shine brightly.

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