5 Hints for Raising Girls with A Healthy Body Image

Here are five ideas for promoting a positive body image in your daughter.

1. Teach your daughter that all shapes and sizes are beautiful.

Remind her that genetics plays a pivotal role in how we look and that beauty comes in all different shapes, sizes, colors and ages.

2. Make exercise fun.

Engaging in physical activities is important for our health. But in our culture, exercise is viewed as a punishment or a chore. It’s something you do because you ate too much or need to fit into your new bikini. This kind of thinking breeds an unhealthy relationship with movement.

We forget that moving your body is enjoyable. Choose activities that both you and your daughter enjoy. Not sure? Have fun trying an array of activities. Ride bikes, take walks, swim, hula-hoop, play tennis, dance. And remind your daughter that exercise isn’t a way to get thin; it’s essential to her well-being.

3. Don’t make critical comments about yourself or others.

If you make jabs about your supposedly big belly or someone else’s, remember that your daughter is listening. And she’ll learn to value herself based on her appearance, which builds a shaky self-esteem. She might think that in order to be worthy and avoid disapproval, she must look a certain way. And she’ll learn to talk that way about herself and others.

4. Create a body-positive environment.

Avoid buying women’s magazines or other weight-loss publications, which are filled with contradictory, damaging messages. Toss the scale, which leads to a preoccupation with weight rather than true health. Instead, have books and magazines around that inspire creativity and help your daughter discover and cultivate her dreams and passions. Rather than fashion models, help her learn about real female role models.

5. Teach your daughter to be media-literate.

Help your daughter become a critical consumer of the media.Let her know that all of the images in ads, magazines and even commercials are airbrushed or digitally altered. That we have a billion-dollar diet industry. That diet and weight-loss ads fund health magazines and their tips typically follow suit. Teach her to question where health advice and society’s skinny standards come from. Most likely it’s from the companies that make money when we feel miserable about our bodies. 

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