No matter what you think about your own body image, if you are the mother of a daughter you want her to have the best body image possible. There are a lot of factors that influence a girl’s body image. While you can’t combat them all, there are some things that moms can do to ensure that they are promoting positive body images to their daughters.
Causes of Negative Body Image
Before you can combat a negative body image in your daughter, you have to know what are the main causes of the issue. With the onset of puberty, your daughter is going to experience some natural changes to her body, including weight gain. There can also be pressure from her friends to look a certain way, something that is exacerbated by media images promoting a so-called “ideal” female body type.
Finally, the one area you as a mom can have the most impact on in terms of your daughter’s body image is how you talk and feel about your own appearance (and hers). If you are overly concerned with your weight and appearance or your daughter’s, she will pick up on that and it can negatively impact her own body image.
Consequences of a Negative Body image
If your daughter starts to feel bad about her weight or the way her body looks, it can have some potentially long-term effects to her mental and physical wellbeing. For instance, she may start to experience low self-esteem and depression. Sometimes this can lead to eating disorders or smoking and abuse of diet pills to control her weight.
What You Can Do
It sounds scary, but there are things you can do to promote a positive body image for your daughter. Start by talking to her about the changes her body will experience as a result of puberty. Letting her know that weight gain during this time is a normal part of the process may help ease some of her concerns.
Also be open about the depiction of women in the media. Talking about these images of women in movies, magazines, television, online and even in some toys can help your daughter understand how they are not representative of normal women. Monitoring what she sees, hears and reads, gives you many great opportunities to have discussions about realistic body images.
Finally, use positive language when you are discussing body types with your daughter. If you call yourself fat, then she is going to take that negative body image idea to heart. Let her know that there are many different shapes of women in the world. The important thing is to focus on being healthy in her diet and exercise habits to ensure a lifetime of good health.