A few years ago, I had a job working with the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta. Though I spent a lot of time with the actual Girl Scout troops, the majority of my focus was on helping middle school aged girls improve their self-esteem and the way that they viewed themselves. During one of the sessions, the girls were asked to say something positive about themselves, and surprisingly, most of them couldn't. It was in that moment that I realized there are things that every parent must do to make her daughter love her body.
I think the worst part about that entire session was the fact most of the girls — who expressed that they didn't have anything positive to say about themselves — said that their mothers would say negative things to them. From calling them overweight to saying that they were too skinny, it was heartbreaking to hear that parents — especially mothers — were saying these sorts of things to their daughters. Though sometimes it can be in a jokingly way, parents have to watch the things that they say to their daughters when it comes to their bodies because the joke can leave a lasting effect long after the laugh is gone.
If you're in need of a few things to do to help your daughters love and their bodies, here are 11 points to do that for you.
1. Speak Positively About Your Own Body
When I think back to my childhood, I can honestly say that I never heard my mom talk negatively about her own body. There was never a time that she called herself too fat or too skinny, and because of that, I learned to appreciate my body more.
2. Remind Her That Bodies Come In Different Shapes & Sizes
According to Parenting, reminding your daughter that all bodies are different in shape and size is a way to encourage her to love her body. Letting her know that it's OK to embrace her body, no matter what it looks like, is a good way to support her.
3. Remind Her That She's Not An Object
One thing that my mom did for me when I was a child was constantly remind me that my body was my body, and that it wasn't to be used as an object for any man. She encouraged me to embrace my body, but not to let anyone else do so unless i wanted them to.
4. Let Her Have Her Own Style
Family Share noted that letting your daughter have her own style is a good way to help her love her body. Instead of dressing her in what you think is cute, let her find her own identity that she's comfortable in.
5. Have Her Tell You What She Loves About Her Body
One of the exercises I did with the middle school girls was have them speak something positive about their appearance because many girls are usually bullied for that. Whether it's the way their hair curled or the way their legs looked, being able to help the girls find something positive about themselves got them comfortable with embracing their bodies more.
6. Tell Her About The Importance Of Keeping Her Body Healthy
When it comes to girls and their bodies, it needs to be about more than just the look of it. Parent Society noted that informing your daughter on how important it is to keep her body healthy takes the pressure off of them wanting to diet and becoming obsessed with their weight.
7. Remind Her To Be Her Own Person
I'm sure I'm not the only person whose mom said, "well if your friends jump off of a bridge, would you do it, too?" Though I always hated when my mom said it, that statement — plus many more that she said — was her way of reminding me to be my own person. When the girls were wearing inappropriate clothing at a young age, my mom always reminded me that I didn't have to do what the other girls did to get attention.
8. Encourage Her To Play Sports
Encouraging your daughter to play sports is a good way to help her love her body, too, Parent Society noted. Having her try out for sports that place a focus on her strength and not her looks will help balance things out.
9. Open Up The Dialogue About The Way She Feels
Working with Girl Scouts reminded me what it felt like to be in middle school again. Talking with those girls made me remember how important it is to open up the dialogue to make girls feel comfortable about their bodies. Although most children don't feel like they can have that conversation with their mothers, starting early will help remove that feeling later down the line.
10. Set An Example With The Way You Dress And Act
I'm proud to say that my mother always acted and dressed appropriately. Because of that, she set a great example for myself and my sister to become ladies and not to sell ourselves short just because "everyone else" was doing it. Set the tone for what they'll become.
11. Point Out Instances Where Men Are Inappropriate To Women So She Becomes Aware
Instead of being passive when your daughter is exposed to inappropriate behavior from men, have a conversation with her about why what was done was wrong. That way, she's aware of instances that she shouldn't tolerate early on.