The title of this post sounds harsh, I know. Us moms have so much on our shoulders. We all love our children fiercely and none of us would ever want to do something that would cause any of them harm. We are weary of the weight of our responsibility.
I wrestled with how to write this post. First, I thought I would give you the list of 5 things you could do to help your daughter have a healthy body image, but I knew that there was one thing that would negate all that hard work. It would be like giving you a detailed recipe for baking bread; precise measurements and lots of kneading and massaging of the dough. After all the time spent to let it rise and cure, if you put it in a cold oven for an hour, you’d have a deflated loaf of raw dough.
Not long ago, I wrote 5 Things Every Daughter Needs to Hear About Her Body. One of the last points on that list is the most important. What her father says to her (or doesn’t say) about her body imprints her body image on her for life. Girls need affirmation and approval of how they look and that they are beautiful from their father. Obviously if Dad says hurtful or damaging things to his daughter, that damages her self-image, but even if dad says nothing, his daughter will adopt a negative body image. Girls assume worthlessness by default. We assume if nothing positive is said to us, that there is nothing positive to say.
Of course, moms want to know what their role is. What part does a mother play in her daughter’s body image? A vital one indeed.
You will pass on your body image to your daughter.
No matter what. If you affirm her, tell her how beautiful God made her and how she is “fearfully and wonderfully made” but don’t believe those things about yourself, then your words are hollow. While the father’s words or lack of them will define a girls self-image, a mother’s words carry little weight if they aren’t a reflection of what she believes about herself.
When you look at yourself in the mirror, do you see the image of God staring back at you? Do you celebrate how you were created? Do you realize that your body is worthy to be God’s temple just. the. way. it. is? Your temple is worthy of your care and respect and of course that implies that we will strive to keep it healthy, clean and fit, but the Holy Spirit doesn’t wait for complete perfection to indwell you. His indwelling makes you perfectly complete.
If you are one of 85% of women with a negative body image, there is hope. As you heal your own self-image, you heal your daughter’s as well. Helping yourself will echo through the generations.