At mother-daughter retreats my wife and I facilitate, we always have a section on body image. The girls are in middle school, a very impressionable age. And it’s always fascinating to learn how unaware most moms are about the negative self-talk they have about their bodies.
When we ask the moms, in front of their girls, “How many of you talk negatively about your bodies in their presence?”, almost every mom intensely denies ever doing that. When we then ask the girls “How many of you have heard your moms do that?”, every hand shoots up. And the moms are shocked.
I think women are so used to discouraging themselves that they really don’t hear themselves talking about it; it’s like a bad habit. But boy are their daughters ever listening and taking it in.
A recent article in USA Today, http://usat.ly/178faHs, points out research that shows how much influence moms have with their daughters in this area. Young girls have a hard enough time filtering through all of the garbage in the media and culture about how girls are supposed to look. What they need at home are parents who value the qualities that are so much more important than appearance: perserverance, problem-solving skills, sense of humor, resilience, focus, compassion, and so much more.
The more that moms can learn to love and accept their bodies and appearance, the easier it will be for girls to emulate the same.