One of the biggest lessons my partner teaches my daughter about body confidence is that women are, well, tough. He was raised by a strong woman who, I think, was aware she didn't have what society considers to be the "perfect body," but knew her value didn't come from her appearance. Between his mom and his feminist wife, my partner knows there are things every grown-ass man teaches his daughter about body confidence.
Whenever my family talks about bodies and exercise, we talk about strength, not size. For example, if my husband asks me what I did at the gym on a particular day, he asks if I felt strong and not how many calories I burned. Then he usually suggests about eight ways on how I could improve my workout so I could feel even stronger. To which I usually reply, "Stop micromanaging me, I'm grateful I can still move after chasing a toddler around all day!" Still, and usually, I enjoy his overall point. He doesn't give a hoot about what I weigh or what size pants I wear and, instead, is entirely more impressed with what I can benchpress. I'm grateful this is what my daughter will pick up from his example.
When talk about what we eat, we talk about managing our choices to get more nutrition (and sometimes fewer margaritas) into our bodies. When we are discussing nutrition and exercise, it's about feeling strong, energetic, and keeping our bodies healthy so we can stick around as long as possible and watch our little daughter get stronger and stronger. My daughter is just a toddler, sure, but her mind is a sponge and I know these conversations are valuable in teaching her to love, accept, and celebrate her body. So, with that in mind, here's just a few ways a grown-ass man teaches his daughter unapologetic body confidence:
That Strong Is The New Skinny
This is a little comical, because our daughter is still a tiny little human, but my partner consistently tries to build up her confidence about her own strength. She may be tiny, sure, but she should never feel she can't do things because she's smaller.
My husband, currently doing push-ups on the floor while my daughter lays on her belly next to her and bobs her head up and down, encourages her strength, not her size.
That Being Healthy Is Important
My partner and I try to model healthiness and moderation in our household as much as possible, showing our daughter that sometimes you have donuts for brunch and sometimes you eat salad for dinner. Thankfully, my partner is fully ware of how damaging it can be to talk about what you eat in terms of being "good" or "bad." Instead, we talk about nutrition (or he talks about macros and I try hard not to roll my eyes!) and recognizing when we feel full.
That Her Mom Can Do Anything
My partner doesn't condescend the ladies of our house, and that consistently teaches my daughter that she can do anything she damn well wants. My partner always assumes we can do things ourselves, although at 6'4 he knows we're going to get him to reach things on the top shelf whenever we need.
That Exercise Is About More Than Size
We're big into exercise in our family, for two big reasons: physical strength and mental fitness. Working out is great, but it's not about being ultra skinny or fitting into smaller clothes. It's about feeling strong in our bodies and keeping ourselves fit so we can have more energy.
That Your Body Is A Gift
Sort of similar to the ubiquitous "your body is your temple," but a little different. After suffering a few basketball injuries, my partner is acutely aware that our working, healthy bodies are an enormous gift that aren't there for us to just complain about. My partner reminds my daughter how amazing it is that she can run so fast, and it truly is.
That Staying Fit Takes Time
The one thing my husband and I have managed to hold onto since becoming parents is near-daily workouts. We trade off watching our daughter so we can work out, or we wait until she's asleep and do a routine at home. It takes time and it's a priority, but it's a priority because we want to be around for decades and decades to see her grow up to be strong and kind.
That It's Not Just Exercise & Eating
Working out is also sleep and reading and listening to music and seeing friends. Body confidence is about treating yourself well holistically, not just jumping on a scale and looking for the smallest number possible.
That You Never, Ever, Shame Anyone
My husband would be the first to correct me if I ever get a little down on my looks or beat myself up for having M&Ms for dinner last night. He is the ultimate model for positive body talk, for himself and for me and my daughter.