Amongst the most influential people in our lives, our parent’s opinions about us can have a substantial impact on the beliefs we hold about ourselves and our place in the world.
Our core beliefs and the behaviours which stem from them, start to form between the age of one to seven, based on our upbringing and our life experiences. The extent to which our parents, and our broader circle of family and friends, reinforce either those negative or positive beliefs throughout our life, can truly hinder or help our self-esteem.
A Guardian reader recently sought the advice of UK-based journalist and television presenter Mariella Frostrup, as to whether her daughter needed plastic surgery in order to improve her looks, and by extension, her happiness.
The mother noted that her daughter “looks very masculine and not in a good way…. She’s had many relationship attempts with men, but I gather they have all failed due to lack of interest on their part.”
Having previously suggested her daughter have multiple surgeries, including plastic surgery to have her ears pinned and a nose job which left her “awfully disfigured”, the mother wanted feedback about encouraging the daughter to have further rhinoplasty surgery to repair nose.
Frostrup was quick to point that while it looked like the daughter had moved on with her life, the mother was in clear need of an attitude overhaul.
“Your daughter has travelled, worked, had relationships and embarked on an independent life,” Frostrup wrote.
“Maybe it’s time you started celebrating those achievements rather than perpetually drawing her back to her shortcomings. It certainly appears as though you’re the one still hung up on her facade.”
Frostrup pointed out that plenty of people do not have film star good looks, but were leading happy and fulfilled lives nonetheless. She also suggested that the reader was continue to reinforce any self-esteem issues her daughter was facing.
“Your daughter may not resemble a Barbie doll, but only a scattering of the world’s population fits that rigid mould. You have certainly done a good job of ensuring that she’s aware of her deficiencies,” Frostrup wrote.
“Before you start your daughter’s next phase of physical makeover, my advice to you would be to embark on your own mental one. You are so far out of step with what makes for a happy life that I’d be surprised if I was the first to point it out.”
Readers were also quick to share their views, condemning the mother for her lack of compassion and support for her daughter.
“I highly doubt that your daughter ‘needs’ plastic surgery, OP. She probably needs you to be a bit more hands off and allow her to be her own person, rather than the Mini-Me that you seem to want her to be,” one read wrote.
“Poor girl, I can relate! My own mother was miserable and unhappy in love and seems to have dealt with it by undermining my self-confidence as much as she could, under the guise of motherly affection and care: ‘you would be so pretty if you arranged yourself better, did your hair differently, if your teeth were [whiter], if your nose was straighter…’. As a result I grew up feeling like a cow, unattractive and unlovable,” wrote another.