Being body positive is a challenge many women face daily. Talking about bodies in a loving way, when the media seems to encourage the exact opposite, takes resolve. And this problem doesn't only plague grown-ass women. Children also struggle to keep negativity at bay when it comes to their bodies. That's why as adults, it's important incorporate body positive terms to teach your daughter into your daily vernacular.
When studies show that girls as young as eight are wanting to diet, the necessity of teaching your daughter body positive terms is even more important. My daughter is nine and still relatively unconcerned with her body. She adores fashion and wears whatever she likes, never for one moment considering that the leggings she is wearing might accentuate her little pot belly, or that her t-shirt doesn’t cover her midriff. Sadly, I’m super aware that this grace period will soon be over. With this in mind I have become increasingly conscious, that I need to ensure she sees and hears only body positive messages at home.
Here are some of the body positive messages I'm teaching my daughter, and that you should share with the young women in your life. These loving mantras will help you raise a girl who knows beauty comes in many shapes and sizes.
1. "All Bodies Are Good Bodies"
This saying gets right to the heart of the matter. Cultural messaging ascribing a person’s value based on their appearance, makes for a very unhappy society. By saying there is no right or wrong way to look; you are shutting down the idea that some bodies are better than others.
2. "The Scale Is Just A Measurement Of Your Body's Effect To Gravity"
After years of disordered eating and daily weigh-ins, it took the birth of my own daughter, to realize that what I weigh shouldn’t affect my self esteem. It sounds simple but it was revelation. Feeling sad because you have put on a few pounds is a true waste of emotion. The only scales I want my daughter to be preoccupied with are the ones weighing her baggage at the airport as she goes on an adventure.
3. "Clothes Don't Need To Be Flattering"
Boy I'm bored of the F word. The notion of women needing to buy clothes, that solve the "problem" of their shape, is so bogus. Not to mention when your daughters hear you use this expression, it tells them that people are imperfect. The next time you find yourself about to say it, swap the word "flattering" for awesome. You can compliment a cool outfit, without hating on your own body.
4. "Your Body Is An Instrument, Not An Ornament"
It's so important that people recognize how amazing their bodies are, instead of how their bodies look. Start using words like "strong," "fast," and "impressive" whenever your daughter starts to discuss her or anyone else’s body. You will be surprised at how quickly it changes the tone, from one of judgement to body positive joy
5. "Self Worth Isn't Based Solely On Appearance"
I remember the first time I was body shamed. I was not much older than my own daughter, and a boy at school told me my butt was “so big you could balance a teacup on it.” Until that moment, I had put any thought into my appearance, and his words began over a decade of incredibly poor body image. Do I want this for my own daughter? Hell no. So the next time your daughter talks about how "pretty" a girl is at school, or how "slim" a pop star is, be sure to emphasize their non-physical attributes. Gently but consistently reiterate, that a woman’s worth is made up of many parts, and that appearance is just one facet.
6. "Every Body Is A Bikini Body"
The messages surrounding how we should look on the beach, are some of the least body positive ones your daughter will encounter. Subvert this, and use your time in a swimsuit to teach your daughter how to be body positive. In these settings, you will see women of all shapes and sizes, bearing various C-section scars, cellulite, and varicose veins, allowing you to teach your daughter, that without photo-shop everyone look's perfectly imperfect.
7. "It's Not Your Job To Be Pretty"
Being pretty is not an obligation. It's important to make girls feel valued, without subscribing to the currency of female beauty. I regularly praise my daughter for things other than her adorable face. Sassy outfits, great jokes, and a kind heart always receive a hi-five.
8. "Exercise For Fun Not Beauty"
At the height of my eating disorder, exercise was about being thin, rather than being healthy. If talking to my daughter about fitness, I keep conversation body positive by concentrating on how great it feels to run with our dog or master a new karate move. It's not about image. It's about feeling great inside.
9. "Speak Well Of Yourself And Others"
Daughters pick up so many social cues from their mothers. Being negative about appearance or throwing shade at someone else's looks legitimizes the idea that judging bodies is OK. So choose your words carefully.
Giving your daughter the tools, to deftly navigate the daily onslaught of hyper critical messages she will receive, is the greatest gift you can bestow. Let's teach our daughters to be body positive, so they can grow to be kind, smart and non judgmental, especially to themselves.