November 6, 2017

How to talk to daughters about their bodies

Hello, hello! This is Susan Hyatt and it’s GO time.

This podcast is all about goals, dreams, courage, confidence, taking action, and building a life that you love.

A new episode drops every Monday, at the beginning of a brand new week… yeah! 

I’m here to wake you up on your Monday morning and get you going. I hope every episode gives you something to think about… and gets your week started on a strong, positive note.

This is episode number 118 and today we are talking about women, and bodies, and how to talk to young women bout their bodies.

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Wanna read the full transcript? Here ya go:

Recently, I received the following Facebook message from a reader:

My heart broke. Because that was me. I was that 12-year-old girl. That was me, staring at my thighs in the mirror and wondering, “Am I getting fat?”

And if I was getting fat, what did that mean? I was pretty sure it meant something terrible about me—that I was lazy, ugly, unlovable, unworthy. A disappointment. Disgusting.

I don’t want any girl or grown-up woman to feel that way. I don’t want my now-teenage daughter to feel that way. I don’t want yours to feel that way, either.

For all the parents out there, if you’ve been wondering, “How can I help my daughter to feel good about herself, to love her body, to build more self-esteem, and to recognize how amazing she is?”… here are some specific things you can do:

1. Change the way you talk about food—and your body.

“Oh my god, this brownie is evil…” “I’ve been so bad, I’ll be good starting on Monday…” “I feel like such a pig today.” “I can’t stop eating these chips, take them away from me, ugh, I hate myself…” “

Many women make these kinds of comments all the time—often in a light-hearted, haha, I’m mostly-kinda-joking kind of way.

But it’s not funny. Think about what you’re saying. “Evil.” “Bad.” “Pig.” “I hate myself.”

If you continually talk about food—and your body—in this way, your daughter hears you. She’s watching and listening. In time, she’ll mimic your behavior, because that’s what kids do. Please be mindful about the words you’re using, because your daughter absorbs every single one.

Instead of using negative language, try saying things like, “Wow, this is delicious!” “That meal was beautiful, I feel so energized now.” “That cake was so decadent and I loved it, but I’ve had enough for now, thanks.” When you shift your language like this, you’re signaling to your daughter, “Food is something to be savored and appreciated, not something to fear or obsess over.”

2. Compliment your daughter for something *other* than her appearance/body.

When was the last time you complimented your daughter for her big, compassionate heart? Her hysterical sense of humor? The way she cares fiercely about animals? Her tech skills? Her gift for photography? Her leadership skills—the way she’s skillfully managing that group project for history class and getting things done on time?

Most of us have a tendency to automatically compliment people on their appearance—“You look so pretty today!” “You’re such a beauty. You look so much like your grandma when she was your age.”—and there’s nothing wrong with doing that. But make sure that you’re not *just* complimenting your daughter on her appearance. Because she’s so much more than just a body.

3. Expose your daughter to strong, inspiring role models.

I have a friend who nearly died from anorexia as a teenager. She told me that the #1 thing that helped her to recover wasn’t therapy, medication, or nutritional counseling. It was finding female role models—women that she admired, women who enjoyed their food, and enjoyed their bodies, and who savored life to the fullest instead of obsessing about their weight. Being around these kinds of women (literally) saved my friend’s life.

If your daughter doesn’t have any role models like that—find some. Authors, actors, activists, politicians, entrepreneurs, that inspiring yoga teacher in your community.

Expose your daughter to these kinds of women. Attend panel events. Watch documentaries. Buy their books and albums. Saturate your daughter with music, artwork, and messages from women who love their bodies AND love every other aspect of themselves, too.

Become that kind of woman yourself, because you are your daughter’s top role model, and the most influential figure in her life.

. . .

There’s about two hundred other things I want to say on this topic—more than I can fit into one article—which is why I created the BARE DAILY community and the BARE coach certification program—two places for women to build confidence and self-esteem, and shake off decades of body-drama. Feel free to check out those programs and sign up if they speak to you. Check out the BARE card deck, too. And this free webinar on self-care and why taking good care of yourself is essential for so many reasons, including the success of your business.

. . .

We live in a world where 97% of women think at least one intensely negative thought about their bodies every single day… where 8 million women in the United States have a full-blown eating disorder… and where most women have tried over 61 different diets, detoxes, cleanses, fasts, programs, and protocols by the time they’re 45 years old in an effort to lose weight.

This is absolute madness. We have the power to change these statistics, and it begins in our homes, kitchens, and living rooms… with us. With our choices.

Will you purchase yet another insane diet this week? Will you stare into the mirror, suck in your tummy, and sigh in disappointment while your daughter watches from the hallway? Will you skip the pool because you hate how you look in a bathing suit? Will you gossip quietly about how your next-door neighbor has “really ballooned” since the divorce? Will you feed into a culture that’s designed to make women hate themselves—or will you fight against it?

Choosing to love yourself, including your body, is an act of defiance. It’s badass. It’s courageous. And it’s one of the greatest gifts you can give to your daughter.

Let her see you loving yourself, daily.

It’s the best way to ensure that she’ll love herself, too.

Susan Hyatt

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