Your Daughters Hear You When You Criticize Your Body


She’s creating her body image based on the things you say.

It’s hard being a woman today, believe me I know. We get it from all directions.

We’re supposed to be beautiful, but humble, never wear any clothing sizes that come in double digits, exercise and have both jobs and a social life. If we have kids, we’re supposed to take on the household chores while also raising our kids and working. It’s easy to get down on ourselves. After a long day we may turn and grab our gut in front of a mirror. “I look hideous.”

Your daughter hears that. All day she’s been told how much she looks like her mother, the mother she thinks is beautiful and wonderful. She doesn’t care what magazine covers look like, not yet. You’re her only role model when it comes to womanhood.

And she’s just heard from your mouth, the mouth that matters the most, that the body that looks so much like hers is hideous. She’s absorbing that and using it as a barometer by which her body should be judged. If you hate yourself for having a stomach roll then having stomach rolls is unacceptable. Calling yourself ugly for having a double chin means she’s ugly when she grows into one.

Your children hear everything you say about your body and believe you think the same things about them. It’s a habit we need to break.

But it goes against everything we’ve been raised to believe, doesn’t it? Being comfortable in our own skin goes contrary to everything we’ve been told our whole lives. We aren’t even supposed to accept compliments. If someone says you have beautiful hair the reaction programmed into us is “Oh no, I didn’t spend any time on it at all. But you look great!”

We’re always supposed to be hunting for our flaws. Maybe we can acknowledge that our hair is great, but we have to deflect that right away. “Thank you! But I wish I had skin like yours, look at all these blackheads I have.” We’re never supposed to be happy with ourselves.

And man, if being fat isn’t the worst. We’re never supposed to just give up and decide to love our fat bodies the way they are, we’re supposed to hate the skin we’re in. Bare minimum we’re supposed to have a plan to fix ourselves. And as any television or magazine ad is more than eager to tell us, we always have something to fix.

But is that really a message we want to be passing along to the next generation? I was pretty miserable growing up with the idea that my body was constantly wrong. Hating myself all the time was really exhausting.

The first step towards creating a better world for our children is creating a better world for ourselves. If your daughter was insulting her body the way you were, what would you say to her? Teach your children that it’s okay to love yourself exactly how they are by giving yourself the same gift.

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Comment: Do you think encouraging children to love their bodies is healthy?