Growing up in a house where diets are the ‘norm’ can be SO damaging. Young girls watching their mums cut out food and complain about how they look has such a profound affect. Seeing a woman you find perfect not loving or looking after her body often filter down, and the unhealthy and time-wasting cycle continues.
Some girlfriends and I were chatting about this other day. Each of us has a different relationship with our bodies and food. We grew up in a mixture of dieting and food-loving homes. One thing we all agreed on, was that we would do whatever we could to make sure our future daughters don’t waste a minute worrying about their weight. This of course is a bloody high benchmark to set but it has to be done. If we can build a super positive and healthy environment around food then we are getting the little ladies off to the best start.
I was emailed this the other day by a friend. It was printed in The Huffington post and I have printed it out and will refer to it many times. So simple but so powerful.
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.
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.
Check out these chats we had with some well-known Aussie celebs talking about body image with their daughters…
How was your relationship with food when you were growing up? Will you try and make it different for your kids?