Why I will talk to my daughter about her body

There is an article circulating about how to talk to your daughter about her body (don’t).

I love the premise of this, and it makes a lot of great points, but there’s a big BUT for me.

There is always going to be the question in every little girl’s (and boy’s) heart, the one that says, “am I enough?” Part of that, eventually, is going to be “am I beautiful?” and “is my body okay?” We might not want that to be the case, but unfortunately in our culture, it IS the case.

My issue is this:

If I don’t answer that question, someone else will.

I don’t want that person to be a bully on the playground, or a Cosmo magazine she sees on the way through the checkout line. I don’t want it to be her first boyfriend, or honestly, anyone other than me.

My parents didn’t talk to me about my body that I can remember, and I still had a severe eating disorder when I was fifteen. They didn’t say any of the taboo things you shouldn’t say, and they didn’t put an unhealthy importance on weight. They instead focused on playing hard and being healthy.

In short, they did a really good job in that department.

The problem was, I still had the questions, the: “Is my body okay? Is it alright that I’m ‘big boned’ and flat chested, and that my legs are muscular instead of slender like my friends? Do I look okay?”

My parents didn’t cause that question, but it was still there.

And I got my answers from other sources. I got it from magazines and movies and boys and friends. The answer I found was: No, I am not enough, my body is not okay.

Now, my kids are growing up in the age of social media, and they are going to be bombarded with “answers” to their questions. I’ll be damned if @fruityloop62 is going to be the first voice on the subject.

SO, I don’t pretend to be an expert, but this topic is obviously very close to my heart. Having walked through anorexia and body dysmorphia, I will do everything in my power to give my daughters a leg up on freedom.

I WILL speak to her about her body. I will tell her that she is beautiful and she is the perfect size for her.

I’ve heard it said that the first truth a child hears on any given subject becomes their foundational truth. Anything else they learn after that will be weighed against that first truth. I have made it my goal to be the very first voice when it comes to my daughters body image, and the things I say will include:

You are ENOUGH.

You are BEAUTIFUL.

You are JUST RIGHT.

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I will not be afraid to compliment her. I will say things like, “I love your long legs and your strong arms”.

I will also speak kindly to my own body in front of her, and I will keep making strides towards the freedom of loving myself exactly as I am. I will love my cellulite and my legs and all the things about me…for her. I haven’t arrived by any means, but I will keep pushing for total freedom so that I have something to invite my daughters (and my sons) into.

My seven-year-old recently told me that someone at school told her she is fat. She cried on my shoulder and then I looked in her big brown eyes and told her, “you are NOT fat, you are beautiful, and you are just right. That person was feeling bad about themself; it had nothing to do with you.” **Side note: To me the word “fat” has become an insult instead of a description of a body type, so no matter what size my kids are I will always assure them that they are not fat. **

“Okay,” she nodded and I could tell that she really heard me. I could tell she trusted my words and they sunk deep.

It is my joy and my honor to be the mother to my daughters. I have the privilege to be one of the most important voices in their lives right now.

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I will make sure she knows that her appearance is only a place to carry the fire that is her soul, but I will also talk to her about her body, and I will tell her that her body is beautiful.

***

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13 thoughts on “Why I will talk to my daughter about her body

  1. Emma

    Omg thank you for this. I’ve really struggled with articulating why I want to talk to my daughter about her body (and my son for that matter) and you’ve just done it for me!

  2. Grateful Single Mom

    “If I don’t answer that question, someone else will.” That’s so true! Children (and adults) get messages all the time from so many sources. The only way to make sure they hear the right message is to be the one to tell them. My ex and his wife have repeatedly told my daughter she is overweight, or she needs to lose weight, or some variation of that. This started when she was pretty little (9-10) and it broke my heart. For a couple years she wouldn’t wear any clothing that was tight against her skin (because it made her feel fat). It has taken a lot of effort to get her to feel ok with herself but I still worry about how she will be as she becomes a teenager. I didn’t read the original article and I’m sure there are a lot of valid points. We have to be careful what we say, they are always listening even when we think they’re not! Thanks so much for this post!

  3. Tracy

    YES! I read that (or a similar) article a few years ago when my oldest daughter was a baby and it just didn’t sit well with me. Me not talking to my daughters about their bodies, or anything else for that matter, will not make those things go away. I have twin cousins in their early 20s’s. Their mom tried this approach and the message they heard…?…we’re not pretty because if we were our mother would have told us, just like she told us how smart and capable we were. Right or wrong, feeling pretty/attractive/etc. matters to most people.

  4. Ida

    I appreciate you voicing this… I too have read a number of articles and books that insist on staying away from the word ‘beautiful ‘ … this was exactly the gut reaction I had, but you worded it so much better than I ever could!

  5. passion4diy

    Thank you for this! I have two daughters. My oldest is about to turn 3. My parents never talked to me about my body either and I let boys influence me. I WILL tell my daughters they are beautiful. they are special and they are worth their weight in gold! Thank you for the reminder!

  6. Kristen@goodngoodforya

    This… this is a lot closer to what I’m thinking. Because that other post just really doesn’t sit with me and I haven’t given it the energy to say why. But I do talk to my daughter about her body… to an extent. But we don’t obsess and we don’t criticize.

  7. Marie Johnston

    This is so wonderful Jessica! Always let your kids know how amazing, beautiful and wonderful they are. I’ve heard myself and others say you’re amazing or beautiful or… BUT… No buts!! They are beautiful, amazing, fantastic, wonderful, handsome, brillian, etc. Not because they’re perfect or always do it right. They’re that way because they are! The world will always remind them of their failures. Parents need to be their biggest fans!! You’re one awesome momma. Go Jessica and go girls and boys! You’re AMAZING!!

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