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Teaching My Daughter to Love Her Body

I read an interesting article in Glamour Magazine this month by Zosia Mamet, the star of HBO’s Girls. The article was called "Mothers, Daughters, and Bodies." Zosia makes the case that a mother’s body image is tied to the image her daughter will eventually gain of herself, that they are essentially connected and thus inherited by our daughters. So, if your own mother didn’t pass along the perfect body-image or passed along yoyo diets where does that leave you?

After reading the article I have to agree with Zosia and I became completely aware of how the body image I have of myself now will be transferred to Emerson, even at this young of an age. I should be clear about something, my mother did not transfer a negative body image to me, and rather she instilled a desire to treat my body with respect. No, I blame my years as a soccer player for my morphed body image. I began playing soccer around age 5, and got competitive around age 10 and went on to play collegiate soccer. While I am not denouncing my love for the game, I am pinpointing it as the reason for some of my own body issues. Like, no matter what I eat in a day even if I am 100% healthy I do not feel complete unless I’ve made myself sweat in some crazy insane workout. I sometimes don’t even feel satisfied with my workouts until my body is broken and rundown. That is due to the level of training we endured as soccer players and not being rewarded until we literally could not take another step. How far did it go? I can remember having to weigh in and out before our double days in college. I would literally drop 5-8 pounds after a workout. My adult self knows that was all water weight but I can recall the elation on my own face and everyone else’s when they saw that much weight drop in just a few hours. So, unlike Zosia I don’t blame my mother but my own body issues are real nonetheless.

Now that I am acutely aware of my own issues, I can take steps to remedy this for my daughter and work to pass on the best version of her body image. How can I do this? I’ve outlined a few things I’ve written down for myself, to remind me how to speak to Emerson. I also don’t think my body issues will go away, but hopefully in speaking and showing this version of myself to Emerson I can believe it and change the way in which I view my own body.

  • Don’t discuss our bodies in terms of weight or shape; rather emphasize healthfulness

  • Tell her how eating healthy and being active will make her strong, not skinny

  • Continue to tell her she is beautiful just the way she is

  • Instead of focusing on how much sugar is in certain foods, change the conversation to focus on the lack of vitamins that are present, vitamins that are needed for her to grow up strong

  • Thank your body for everything it gives you rather than criticize it for everything it doesn’t

  • We should feed ourselves when we are hungry and feel good when we are full

May you always continue to love yourself Emerson, just the way you are!

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