Very few women like what they see when they look in the mirror. Whether it’s a nose that’s not quite cute enough, the appearance of pimples in our youth—that annoyingly can remain with us in adulthood too—or emerging wrinkles that are only going to deepen with age, we all find something to zoom in on. It becomes a focal point of everything that seems wrong with us.
Instead of recognizing our inner beauty we become fixated on the superficial, and this always seems to happen at times when we can be feeling the most vulnerable: oh yes, those adolescent years can be a real confidence killer! So Laguna Hills High School in California decided to address this issue, and it’s an idea that even adults could look to adopt when in need of a little confidence booster.
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The high school recognized that this period of their students’ lives can be very trying; the combination of hormones, exams, and peer pressure can be enough to make any A-student crack. They therefore decided to ease some of the students’ pressure by replacing all the mirrors in their bathrooms with words of affirmation, giving girls a positivity boost every time they went to look in the “mirror.” Uplifting comments such as: “You are beautiful,” “You are loved,” and “You are important” were staring back at them.
“I had to hold back the tears when I saw them,” one visiting high school mom, Shannon McKinney Lob, said. “They were all over every stall,” she said, adding “I was so amazed and overjoyed at what I saw. No mirrors, just affirmations.”
The global movement, DoSomething.org, involving more than 5.5 million young people trying to affect positive change on and offline, explains how low self-esteem can be so detrimental for adolescents. One of the many consequences of self-negativity is that “Over 70 percent of girls age 15 to 17 avoid normal daily activities, such as attending school, when they feel bad about their looks.” Sadly this also has an impact on behavior with the opposite sex: “Teen girls who have a negative view of themselves are four times more likely to take part in activities with boys that they’ve ended up regretting later.” And boys are affected too, with “38 percent of boys in middle school and high school reported using protein supplements” in attempt to bulk up.
The organization is trying to encourage teens to sign up to their Mirror Messages project, and to post anonymous uplifting messages on mirrors to spread a little happiness to all those who see them. And as a high school in Kansas showed, teens themselves want to be involved in spreading this message. In 2015, students from Trinity Academy went that little further and covered their bathroom walls with Bible verses as well as positive affirmations.
These sorts of initiatives just go to prove the power of words, and that everything we say and write can have a positive and negative impact. No matter how many times we tell our anxious teens how great they’re doing, or how impressed we are with their athletic ability, we should try leaving little positive notes on our daughter’s, or son’s, mirror from time to time to help start their day with a smile … and maybe one for our husband or wife too as we all need a little reassuring from time to time!