It isn’t easy to talk about body image. Almost all of us have faced body image challenges. We have struggled with our self-esteem in relation to how we perceive our own bodies. We have faced challenges in how body image is dealt with in our society.
If we’re lucky, we’ve worked through those issues over time, and we now have a positive body image. However, most of us continue to struggle now and then.
So how are we supposed to talk about body image with our daughters? After all, we haven’t even resolved the issue for ourselves.
Even if you happen to have reached a great level of positive body image yourself, you might still find it challenging to talk about body image with your daughter. Nevertheless, you want to protect her from all of the negative feelings associated with this particular aspect of growing up in our society.
Here are five healthy ways to talk about body image with your daughter so that she can grow up with positive self-esteem.
The more often that you talk about body image in your home, the easier it will be to talk about it during tough times.
For example, whenever you’re watching television together, you can mention the beauty in bodies of different types. Then when your daughter expresses some concern about her body, you’ve already established a foundation for talking about it openly and honestly in your home.
Your urge is naturally going to be to make your daughter feel like the most beautiful girl in the world. However, she’s going to struggle with a variety of different messages, and she needs a safe place to process those.
For example, another child might call her fat. Sure, you should let her know that she’s perfect the way that she is. However, more than that, she needs you to listen to her express her feelings about that experience.
It’s hard to bear our children’s pain, but the best thing that you can do is listen with empathy, without immediately jumping in to fix the problem. Ask questions and help her to understand her own feelings.
Sometimes your daughter will benefit from factual information about her changing body.
For example, as she goes through puberty, she will likely gain weight. Do you know the biology behind this?
If not, then take the time to learn, so that you can share that information with her. You might also want to talk about how hormones can impact emotions, which in turn can affect your own body image.
Girls receive a lot of attention for their looks. However, they often don’t receive as much praise for their skills, talents, and positive character traits. Therefore, their self-esteem tends to be tied to their appearance.
However, if you make it a habit to regularly praise your daughter for things other than her appearance, then you’ll help to instill well-rounded confidence. This overall self-esteem can help reduce the impact of negative body image.
Don’t just talk about body image with your daughter. The more you can work on your own relationship with body image, the better example you’ll set for your daughter.
After all, if you tell her that she shouldn’t worry about her appearance, but then you step on the scale each morning and make a critical face at what you see, she’s going to pick up on your actions more than your words.
So, talk to your friends, family, and therapists to keep processing how body image continues to impact you.
No matter how well you talk about body image with your daughter, she might still face challenges with self-acceptance. Teen counseling can help her navigate this challenging part of growing up. Learn more about our services here.