I was always a healthy child but when I came into my pre-pubescent years I started to put on weight. In 5th grade I was heavier than most girls in my class and the only one wearing a bra. I wasn’t morbidly obese or anything, but I was definitely shaped differently than the other kids. I wasn’t shopping in the kids section at the mall anymore, I was in adults.
My doctor recommended to my mom that I join this program for heavy kids. It was basically Fat Camp. The program took place at our local hospital, and met a few times a week after school. When my Mom picked me up at the end of my first day I remember her saying, “This is not the place for you. You are perfect and I love you.” We never went back.
That day she made the choice for me at that fork in the road. She taught me to love my body. She knew I was growing and that this stage was not permanent. Rather than shame me into feeling guilty for the way I looked, she supported me.
Moms (and dads too! – My dad always told me he loved me and that I was beautiful), I hope you realize how much of an influence you have on your daughters’ view of their bodies and themselves as people. They hold on to every last word you say, positive or negative. If you are constantly telling them they look “bad” eventually they will believe it. Remember, every daughter’s biggest hero is their Mom. So, if you are in a place of self-loathing, it gets passed on! If they can see that you don’t love yourself – they won’t love themselves either. If you are always dieting, they will think that’s normal and will start dieting too. Do you really want your daughters to live a life where they hate their bodies and are in constant emotional turmoil?
I hope not.
One of my biggest fears as a mother of a little girl is to raise a daughter who does not love herself, battles eating disorders and is constantly dieting. In this new technology driven world they are bombarded by the media with images, videos and advertisements of how they are “supposed” to look. Eventually, that day will come when they approach the fork in the road like we did. It is our job as mothers to help direct them to the right path.
Quit The Negative Self-Talk
- Don’t say negative things about your body in front of your daughters. They think you are the most beautiful woman they know. Not only does the negative talk shatter their image of you, it sets an example of how they look at their own body.
Encourage The Right Outcome
- Encourage your daughters to be ‘fit’ rather than ‘skinny’. My daughter is only 7 and she has already picked up that being skinny is a good thing from someone at school. When she brings it up I tell her its better to be strong and healthy and then we flex our muscles 🙂
Teach A Healthy Lifestyle
- Choose a healthy lifestyle for your family. Don’t force exercise on your child – choose activities that are fun and good for the whole family – take a walk after dinner, ride bikes or hike as a family. Cook healthy meals together as a family so they can learn how to prepare healthy meals for themselves.
Love Her For Who She Is
- This is the most important one and the biggest gift my parents gave me. I was an awkward teenager – over weight, acne, bad hair, bad fashion sense. But my parents loved me for my quirky self and they still do. They didn’t tell me I was fat and put me on an exercise regiment or diet. They guided me but they let me be who I was. They allowed me to figure out who I really am and because of that I don’t hate myself!