How To Raise A Girl To Have A Positive Body Image

The female body has been a popular subject since the beginning of time. Perhaps it all started with Adam being beguiled by Eve’s charms!  (If you are a Bible literalist) The female body has been glorified in art and humiliated in sleaze. How a woman ultimately portrays herself is a result of her environmental formation. This conditioning comes primarily from her parents, especially her Mother. In my therapy sessions a woman’s body is often a topic to be delved into relative to her self esteem, eating disorders, abuse, sexuality, style, handicap, etc…

With that preface I want to introduce you to our daughter, Brittany Stathas Dixon. She is happily married and a mother of two special girls. (Papa John knows that for sure!) Brittany also is a blogger of some note, having 300 thousand followers per month. She writes primarily about good health and parenting. ( Recently she wrote a marvelous blog about “How to raise a girl to have a positive body image”. I want to share this with you, adding some of my own thoughts.

  1. NEVER TALK ABOUT MY OWN PHYSICAL APPEARANCE IN A NEGATIVE WAY: There is no denying that in parenting more is caught than taught. I can tell my girls all day long how wonderful they are and to be confident, but if they were to see me pinching my sides, sucking in my stomach or making derogatory statements about my own appearance, then they are going to do the same. So I just don’t do it. I don’t talk about my body in a negative way. This is actually something I’ve come to believe so strongly in that it makes me feel uncomfortable to hear the usual body bashing verbiage other women use to describe themselves. I’ve learned that changing the way I talk to myself not only benefits my children, but it benefits me as well.
  2. USE WORDS TO DESCRIBE MYSELF AND MY DAUGHTERS BEYOND PHYSICAL APPEARANCE: I’m not in the camp that says never to compliment the way my daughter looks. When a color is beautiful on her I tell her that it makes her eyes shine. I’m OK letting her know how beautiful she is. However, just as often, if not more, I use character traits to give her compliments. She is creative, brave, kind-hearted, funny, intelligent, and loving. I want her to recognize these things about herself to know she is more than just a pretty face.
  3. EXERCISE ALWAYS HAS A POSITIVE CONNOTATION: Exercise is something I do because I love my body, not because I loathe it. I do it to make myself feel strong and healthy. It’s never punishment. I love that my girls see me make a concerted effort to get to Burn Bootcamp regularly. I want them to see that mommy feels so good when she sweats! I show them how strong or fast I am getting and they see how the endorphin rush puts me in a good mood. I want them to find an activity they love that has them moving their bodies so that they can feel great and enjoy exercise for a lifetime.
  4. FOOD IS FOOD: I know I’ve touched on this before, but in our house food is food. There is not good food or bad food and we don’t use it as a reward. When they get older I won’t mind going into more detail on how this food will make us feel good and give us more energy versus a food that may slow us down or make our tummies hurt if we eat too much. At this point though, I control almost all the food they are exposed to, so if I bring it into the house, it’s fair game in my opinion. If I bring in ice cream and they want ice cream, then we eat it.
  5. DISPLAY POSITIVE SELF CONFIDENCE WHETHER I’M WEARING A SWIM SUIT, SWEATS OR A BALLGOWN: I will be honest, this one has taken some working on for me. I don’t naturally feel extremely confident in a bathing suit. However, when the urge rises u for me to self deprecate my swimsuit-clad body, I imagine my girls saying the same things about themselves and it shuts me up really fast. My body is not perfect, but I’m proud of it, what it has done and what it can do, so I’m going to on my damn swimsuit and let them see and remember a mom that got out and played with them.

Respected Reader, as you can imagine I am immensely proud of Brittany for who she is and for the insights she shares with others. This topic is highly relevant and I hope that you may find a way to put to good use this content, whatever state of life or role you play.

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates

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