Saturday, January 23, 2016

How to Talk to Your Daughter About Her Body

I came across this amazing essay from Facebook and I absolutely had to share. 

I actually got to thinking...if my daughter were old enough to find my blog - how would I feel about her reading what I have written? What am I doing well? What could I improve with her in mind? What am I modelling to her exactly

For sure, I could probably obsess a little less about my body...but honestly not by much. Not anymore. There definitely was a time when that wasn't the case. Thankfully though, over the years, my body and I have become much better friends. I hope my daughter sees that.

I no longer view exercise as punishment. I am grateful for a healthy body to move me through life. Maya knows that I love going to do my "exercise" and that I consistently make time for it.

I don't really eat crazy anymore. Sure, I sometimes mildly indulge and feel badly for it but it's not AT ALL what it was before (the crazy eating or the guilt or the hate). More or less I have been the same healthy weight for years now by eating pretty balanced. And despite my recent ideas for 'food experiments', "dieting" is really not a work spoken in this house. (But going back to my daughter ever reading my taking photos of meals eaten and posting them something that is actually a little obsessive/negative)?

Encouraging and modelling a very healthy attitude about my body is actually even more important now because of my daughter's juvenile arthritis. What does she think about having to 'control' something happening in her own body through her medications and diet modifications? I've always thought that auto-immune diseases in general were just crazy. The idea of one's own body attacking itself!?!? What could be crazier than that??

As she gets older I worry about possible flare ups and how she would feel towards her body if this happens. Will she feel like her body has rejected her? Will she resent having to deal with this? Will this cause her to be more determined to work through it by doing things such as yoga, swimming, and meditation, or will she get depressed about it and basically stop moving her body altogether because it's too painful? It's bad enough that kids are so exposed to negative messages about their bodies and weight starting at such a young age.

Gosh. So overwelming if you think too much about it.

Anyway, please take a moment to read the essay below. 

"How to talk to your daughter about her body, step one: Don't talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it works.
Don't say anything if she's lost weight. Don't say anything if she's gained weight.
If you think your daughter's body looks amazing, don't say that. Here are some things you can say instead:
"You look so healthy!" is a great one.
Or how about, "You're looking so strong."
"I can see how happy you are -- you're glowing."
Better yet, compliment her on something that has nothing to do with her body.
Don't comment on other women's bodies either. Nope. Not a single comment, not a nice one or a mean one.
Teach her about kindness towards others, but also kindness towards yourself.
Don't you dare talk about how much you hate your body in front of your daughter, or talk about your new diet. In fact, don't go on a diet in front of your daughter. Buy healthy food. Cook healthy meals. But don't say, "I'm not eating carbs right now." Your daughter should never think that carbs are evil, because shame over what you eat only leads to shame about yourself.
Encourage your daughter to run because it makes her feel less stressed. Encourage your daughter to climb mountains because there is nowhere better to explore your spirituality than the peak of the universe. Encourage your daughter to surf, or rock climb, or mountain bike because it scares her and that's a good thing sometimes.
Help your daughter love soccer or rowing or hockey because sports make her a better leader and a more confident woman. Explain that no matter how old you get, you'll never stop needing good teamwork. Never make her play a sport she isn't absolutely in love with.
Prove to your daughter that women don't need men to move their furniture.
Teach your daughter how to cook kale.
Teach your daughter how to bake chocolate cake made with six sticks of butter.
Pass on your own mom's recipe for Christmas morning coffee cake. Pass on your love of being outside.
Maybe you and your daughter both have thick thighs or wide ribcages. It's easy to hate these non-size zero body parts. Don't. Tell your daughter that with her legs she can run a marathon if she wants to, and her ribcage is nothing but a carrying case for strong lungs. She can scream and she can sing and she can lift up the world, if she wants.
Remind your daughter that the best thing she can do with her body is to use it to mobilize her beautiful soul."
~ Sarah Koppelkam via The Cosmic Dancer

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