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.
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.
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.