Body Image: Moms, you can help your daughters.
I live for helping college students and young adults develop healthy habits at a young age. I’ve noticed a sad pattern: Many of my 18-22 year-old female clients are not motivated by health. At least ⅓ of them say they want to change their eating habits because their mom has commented on their recent weight gain, how much they eat, or their body image.
These bright young women repeat statements that their mother has said to them in the past, and I can see that they were emotionally affected. Dr. Leslie Sim, clinical director of Mayo Clinic’s eating disorders program and a child psychologist said, “Moms are probably the most important influence on a daughter’s body image.” I’ve seen this firsthand with my clients. While I realize that moms have good intentions and want the best for their daughters, it’s clear that their comments about body image or diet can be interpreted in a way that is hurtful.
Here are a few comments I’ve heard moms say to their daughters or that daughters have repeated back to me:
- That girl has a perfect body.
- You’re really going to eat all that?
- Wow, you must have been hungry.
- Why can’t you be more like your _______ (sister, brother, etc.)?
- That crop top is not very flattering on you.
Daughters: Here are a few ways to maintain body positivity:
- Understand it’s usually rooted in her own body negativity. The way a girl feels about her body can be related to the way her mom talks and feels about her own self. If she’s ever said anything about your body, chances are she’s made remarks about her own body in front of you, too. Try to sympathize and realize her struggle with self love may blind her from realizing what she’s saying to you.
- Build some boundaries. Our minds are constantly being filled with the beliefs and values of all the people who influence our lives. Developing a strong sense of self comes from filtering out the voices of everyone else and listening to your own intuition, needs, and desires.
- Rewire your brain. Inner Confidence Coach Kristin Misik writes, “The more your thoughts follow a specific pathway, the stronger that pathway becomes. If you are thinking “I’m fat, I’m ugly” every day, those pathways become really strong. Neuroplasticity allows you to create new pathways with messages of self-love and kindness instead of self rejection. Interrupt your negative thinking by saying “that’s not true” or by saying what you wish to be true instead.”
I am no expert on body image and body positivity BUT I do know of some incredible women who are. Check out these sites (listed below) for more tips on how to overcome negative self talk.
- Isabel Foxen Duke: http://isabelfoxenduke.com/
- Maddy Moon: http://maddymoon.com/
- Emily Joy Rosen: http://emilyjoyrosen.com/
Thanks for reading!