Society seems as if it’s set up to shape how a girl views herself from the moment she’s born. And this scares the shit out of me. Although the power of marketing, culture and media is nothing new, the idea of having a child and putting them through the hell of facing a money-making world that has a very clear agenda is just beyond terrifying.
So is it possible for your daughter to escape growing up with an unhealthy obsession with her body? Can your daughter grow up free from a negative body image?
We came across a beautiful article on the blog Hope Avenue that addresses parents and gives them tips on how they can help raise healthy daughters. Oftentimes parents don’t even realize that they are a major part of the problem, falling neatly into all the traps society sets for them and then projecting their own insecurities on their daughters and sons.
The problems starts when we don’t question our obsession with our external appearance, both with ourselves and with those closest to us. Or that we lack the language to communicate beyond what society tells us to say. Next time you see a little kid who happens to be a girl and are trying to compliment her, notice what you say. Nine times out of ten, when you first talk to a little girl, your instinct is to say “you look so pretty!” or “that shirt is so cute!”. With boys, we compliment them more on their accomplishments rather than on their looks, which is another problem in and of itself (check out the promo for The Mask You Live In).
Hope Avenue author skoppelkam just nails it with her advice. It might seem like common sense, but breaking out of habitual ways of thinking is a lot harder than most of us realize. Read what she has to say below:
How to talk to your daughter about her body
How to talk to your daughter about her body, step one: don’t talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it works.
Don’t say anything if she’s lost weight. Don’t say anything if she’s gained weight.
If you think your daughter’s body looks amazing, don’t say that. Here are some things you can say instead:
“You look so healthy!” is a great one.
Or how about, “you’re looking so strong.”
“I can see how happy you are – you’re glowing.”
Better yet, compliment her on something that has nothing to do with her body.
Don’t comment on other women’s bodies either. Nope. Not a single comment, not a nice one or a mean one.
Teach her about kindness towards others, but also kindness towards yourself.
Don’t you dare talk about how much you hate your body in front of your daughter, or talk about your new diet. In fact, don’t go on a diet in front of your daughter. Buy healthy food. Cook healthy meals. But don’t say “I’m not eating carbs right now.” Your daughter should never think that carbs are evil, because shame over what you eat only leads to shame about yourself.
Encourage your daughter to run because it makes her feel less stressed. Encourage your daughter to climb mountains because there is nowhere better to explore your spirituality than the peak of the universe. Encourage your daughter to surf, or rock climb, or mountain bike because it scares her and that’s a good thing sometimes.
Help your daughter love soccer or rowing or hockey because sports make her a better leader and a more confident woman. Explain that no matter how old you get, you’ll never stop needing good teamwork. Never make her play a sport she isn’t absolutely in love with.
Prove to your daughter that women don’t need men to move their furniture.
Teach your daughter how to cook kale.
Teach your daughter how to bake chocolate cake made with six sticks of butter.
Pass on your own mom’s recipe for Christmas morning coffee cake. Pass on your love of being outside.
Maybe you and your daughter both have thick thighs or wide ribcages. It’s easy to hate these non-size zero body parts. Don’t. Tell your daughter that with her legs she can run a marathon if she wants to, and her ribcage is nothing but a carrying case for strong lungs. She can scream and she can sing and she can lift up the world, if she wants.
Remind your daughter that the best thing she can do with her body is to use it to mobilize her beautiful soul.