Parenting advice to raise girls from inside out and stop the outside wrinkle-free, large-breasted, pencil thin craze. Enough!

Ask teen girls what is on their birthday wish list these days, and you may get a surprise answer: Botox! Yep, that appointed “youth wonder treatment” by the 40 something set (who rave how Botox temporarily reduces those dreaded wrinkles and winds back the face clock) is now a hot item for adolescent girls.

Botox is the brand name for botulinum toxin. When injected cosmetically in small, diluted doses, it weakens muscles, causing a “youthful effect. But data shows for the past few years, teen girls have caught the “I want to look younger” craze as well with more teens begging parents for injections (around $300-500 per treatment).

The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (who christened the craze, the “teen toxing trend”) reported that almost 4000 more Botox procedures were performed on teens 18 and under in 2009 than in 2008. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has reported a small increase in patients 13 to 19 during the same time frame.

Teen Depression, Eating Disorders, Binging, Stress, and Plastic Surgery Also Increasing

I hope you’re as concerned – okay outraged – about this trend as I. But my concern for our younger female gender goes beyond this “feel-the-need for Botox” craze. The increase in teen plastic surgery is also increasing. I find it more than a mere coincidence that we are also seeing a rise in depression, eating disorders, binge drinking, stress, and low self-esteem in young girls as well.

So what’s going on? Most experts-myself included-agree that it’s due to continual negative messages we’re feeding our girls that happiness comes from the outside (being a particular dress size, getting Botox injections, wearing designer labels, getting liposuction or breast implants. And those messages are robbing our daughters of a sorely missed and critical needed notion that real happiness comes from the inside and appear to be “working.”

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, more than 36,800 cosmetic surgery procedures were performed on Americans 18 and under last year. News stories reveal that many teens are now asking for breast implants–a 24 percent increase since 2002–as a Sweet 16 or high school graduation present. Imagine that.

Parenting Advice to Help Us Raise Strong Girls from the Inside Out and Stop the “Toxing Craze”

How do we help young girls realize that there are other ways to be happy than by being large-breasted, pencil-thin, or wrinkle free? What are ways for parents to help their daughters learn to feel comfortable in their own skin without having to copy “the look” of this week’s Hollywood idol? And just how do we turn this troubling trend for Botox, cosmetic surgery-and whatever else-around and help our girls grow to be strong, confident and happy from the inside out?

Here are tips from my book, The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries:

Say no! Seriously, why does a teen girl need Botox? Why, why, why? Show me a wrinkle on the face of  14 year old! Explain to me why a 13,14 or even 19-year old girl needs to look “more youthful.” If your daughter is begging for Botox, believe me, an injection is not the cure. There’s a much deeper issue at stake and I’m betting it’s self-esteem. Say no to that injection. Address her feelings of “inadequacy” and not her need to cover up a so-called wrinkle.

Check your attitude. Kids who see and hear their parents (especially moms) worrying about their appearance usually adopt the belief that being young and thin is the standard to achieve. So watch your comments (please!!) and tune into your own behavior. Your daughter is watching more than you’ll ever realize!

Build self-esteem. A positive and well-rounded sense of self-esteem and healthy body image are two of the best antidotes for thirteen-year old girls craving Botox and breast implants. So find ways to help your daughter gain competence in physical, social and academic endeavors. Praise her for her “inside qualities”, and not her appearance. Help her realize her innate strengths and wonderful personal qualities.

Watch her media diet. Please! The American Psychological Association concluded that the proliferation of sexualized images (as well as those “pencil-thin, “gotta look perfect” ones) in advertising, merchandising and media are harmful to girls’ self-image and their health development and increase the likelihood of eating disorders and depression. Control your remote, get her a subscription of healthy magazines, and find her healthy outlooks that don’t require wearing sexy attire. And while you’re at it, put down those celebrity magazines…at least when your daughter is in the room!

Check her friends. Tune in a bit closer to what your daughter’s friends are talking about. If the focus is all about the latest “diets” and “dress size” it may be time to steer your child toward others friends with healthier outlooks.

Find like-minded parents. Is your daughter pushing you to let her wear makeup? Does all she want to do in her spare time is go to a spa for facials? Consider talking with parents of your teen’s friends and hear their views. Chances are they share your standards. Standing together will reduce those, “You’re the only parent who feels that way.” I’m betting you’re not. Find parents who share your values and join forces.

Find positive, female role models. Let’s offer our daughters female role models who feel comfortable in their own skin and don’t need to rely on Botox, breast implants, dieting, and designer labels to feel attractive. What about J.R. Rowling, Michelle Obama, Michelle Wei, Anne Hathaway, Great Aunt Harriet, or the neighbor lady next door? Expose your daughter to authentic, confident women, and then tell her why you admire them. Our girls need strong, resourceful female examples to emulate. Enough of Paris, Lindsay and Britney!

Our best hope is to help our daughter learn–and as early as possible–that real happiness isn’t borrowed or copies, but lies within.  That’s exactly why we need to help our girls become strong from the inside out. Doing so is what will help our daughters feel comfortable in their own skin.

Oh how I hope you’re with me on this one!

Dr. Michele Borba, Parenting Expert

For more parenting advice, follow me on twitter @MicheleBorba, go to my website, MicheleBorba or subscribe to my blog, Dr. Borba’s Reality Check. Ideas from this blog were from my book, The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries (Refer to the chapters on Growing Up Too Fast, Eating Disorders, Depression, Stressed, Clothes and Appearance).