Helping Your Daughter Build A Positive Body Image
Every Monday features a tip, activity, inspiring quote or some other tidbit to help boost your body image – and kick-start the week on a positive note!
Got a tip for improving body image? Email me at mtartakovsky at gmail dot com, and I’ll be happy to feature it. I’d love to hear from you!
How do you respond when your daughter says: “I have such huge thighs, I hate them!” Or what do you do when she’s clearly wearing something that just doesn’t work?
And better yet, how do you help her cultivate a healthy body image in an appearance- and thin-obsessed society?
While it might seem impossible, there are many things you can do.
Recently, I was re-reading Dara Chadwick’s You’d Be So Pretty If…Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies-Even When We Don’t Love Our Own, and found some fantastic advice for the “tricky body moments that sometimes crop up.”
As Dara writes, “Mothers are powerful. What we say about our bodies-and those of our daughters-has a lasting effect on the way they see themselves.”
- Watch your words. For years, I was totally 100 percent guilty of this: saying disparaging remarks about my body (and anything about myself for that matter). But here’s the thing: Your daughter is listening and watching. As Dara says, “if your daughter is in the room, think of her, and bite your tongue.”
- Question your questions. What the heck do you say if your daughter says “Are my legs fat?” or “Do these pants make my butt look big?” Dara suggests turning it around and asking what your daughter thinks. “By probing a little, you may be able to find out what she needs to hear.”
- Try a little time-travel. “Before you unleash a criticism of what she’s wearing or even the slightest comment about her body, stop, close your eyes and remember what is was like to be an adolescent.”
- Spread it around. There’s nothing wrong with praising your daughter’s or someone else’s appearance. But “just remember to dole it our fairly and not make your praise about appearance all the time for any one person.”
- Mind your mannerisms. Many times we think words hurt. But, as Dara writes, don’t forget that “looks, gestures and sighs” hurt, too.
For many adults, making peace with their bodies is a difficult road, which makes teaching your child to love their’s even tougher.
Here’s what Dara suggests:
- Cultivate kindness. Tempted to crack a negative comment? Whether it’s about yourself or someone else, Dara says to “stop and think for a moment. Is the criticism really necessary?” Probably not. Instead, she recommends focusing on the positive.
- Skip the mirror. After you’ve glanced at yourself in the mirror before leaving the house, avoid nit-picking yourself in every store window, car window and so on.
- Appreciate your strengths. One night after carrying six heavy bags of groceries, Dara had her son feel her “guns.” Dara and her daughter also regularly compare biceps. Of course, this isn’t to one up each other but to focus on their strength and power. Try to do the same.
- Revisit history together. Along with your daughter, look through old family photos. “Compliment the people you see, and remind her of what a strong, loving family she comes from.”
How do you help your daughter cultivate a more positive body image? How have you made peace with your own body?
P.S., Dr. Dana Udall-Weiner from the Body and the Brood – one of my favorite people and one of my fave blogs! – is hosting this month’s Self-Discovery, Word by Word! The word is…bravery! Please read her post for more info.
Tartakovsky, M. (2011). Helping Your Daughter Build A Positive Body Image. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 7, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/weightless/2011/06/helping-your-daughter-build-a-positive-body-image/