Body Image Tips to Raise Healthy, Confident Daughters

Dr. Robyn Silverman

September is an amazing month for action. You can smell it in the air. Back to work.  Back to school.  Back to…snarky body-bashing comments from “friends,” coworkers, and the girl next door who, as it turns out, isn’t that nice after all.

What are we doing? It’s time to get it together.  If women can’t be nice to each other, who the heck are we all supposed to lean on?  Come on.  Men are…men.  We love them but they don’t understand the plight of women and girls like…well, other women and girls!

I know next month is national Love Your Body Day– in fact, I will be posting an amazing interview with Love Your Body Day event planner, Chenese Lewis this week. But do we really need to wait to love our bodies?  Do we really need to wait to give our friends, colleagues, and family members a compliment, a smile, and a quick “you go girl” to help them feel like they are valuable, worthwhile, and an asset to themselves and society? Yes, I mean despite their weight.  Who cares?  No woman or girl is worth more when they weigh less.  We need to fight back.

Here are some quick tips for parents and yes, other women, to help inspire our girls to hone those assets and reach their potential.  Don’t wait for Love Your Body Day.  Do it now. How about teaching that to your daughter or some other girl today?


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Geri Halliwell and Moms as Body-Positive Role Models

Mothers can have it touch these days. Not only must they cope with their own body image insecurities, but they must be a positive role model to their daughters.

It’s not that they didn’t always need to think about being a positive role model—of course they did. However, Moms need to cope with the “you must be thin to win” messages from the media in a way that doesn’t cause spillover body image anxiety that can be absorbed by their daughters. In other words, they must be made of Teflon. They can hear it, but it can’t stick. They can experience it but they must be strong enough to endure.

From someone in the spotlight, this all might be nearly impossible. After all, the press loves to flaunt any bump, blemish, or bulge that a celebrity may have and make them (and us) think it’s just the worst thing in the world to every happen to someone.

While Glamour Magazine isn’t always the most body sensitive magazine, and the Spice Girls have been far from good examples of body loving popstars, every once in a while, you can find a diamond sliver in the rough. A new article shows that Geri Hallowell (Ginger Spice) wants to be a positive role model for her daughter, BlueBell. model for her daughter than with spending her life at the gym.

“I think it’s good to promote a healthy example, so whatever shape she is, she loves herself… I think the outside reflects the inside, and where I am now, I just feel content and accepting. I think that’s the key to having a good body.” (Glamour Magazine)

But what about for regular folks?

It’s great to get involved with programs that promote positive body image and help put the spotlight on healthy eating, getting in tune with your body, and spending time together in a positive environment.

In Atlanta Georgia, a bunch of Moms and 10-11 year old daughters, along with Dina Zeckhausen, a clinical psychologist from the Eating Disorders Information Network, got together for a day of cooking together. The goal? To help mothers become positive role models for their daughter—especially around food and eating.

“These are just ordinary moms…A lot of ordinary moms these days have struggled with their own body image. They want to raise healthy daughters. They don’t want to pass their own anxieties down to their girls.” –D. Zeckhausen

It’s vital that Moms zap the negative body talk in the bud. Studies show that Moms who speak negatively about themselves can have daughters that do the same.

“It’s important that you don’t put yourself down in front of your daughter,” explained Zeckhausen. “She has an adult woman’s body in her future and she’s looking to you in terms of how to feel about that body. She’s taking notes whether you know it or not.”

While one cooking class can’t make a big difference, the sentiment is quite correct. Moms and daughters can do things together that highlight healthy living—listening to your body when it’s hungry and being sure to exercise and enjoy life.