It seems that, every time I scroll through my Facebook or Instagram feed and remind myself that there never really seems to be anything substantial on there, I come across just one remarkably inspiring post. In hindsight, this might have something to do with the fact that I constantly seek connections between just about everything in my life. My confirmation bias aside, yesterday this happened again when I came across a great, ‘food for thought-worthy’ post by Sarah Koppelkam titled “How to Talk to Your Daughter About Her Body“.
You may have read it before, as it is nearly three years old, but if you haven’t I urge you to do so now. The post made me realize, yet again, that there are indeed (many) more important things in life that deserve your attention, than just the way we look. Hold on to this for future reference, or show it to your mother, which is one of the first things I did upon reading it.
I am convinced that insecurities or conceptions of oneself don’t just magically appear when one enters adolescence or adulthood. Especially at a young age, we are not responsible for the views we have of ourselves and of the world around us. They are most-likely the result of an evaluation we have made, either in comparison to others, or as a result of what someone has told us.
For many of us, the most influential figures in our lives can greatly shape the way we see ourselves. In the life of a 14, 20, or 30-year old women or girl, a mother is probably one of the most important individuals shaping her daughter’s views of things. Mothers should therefore be extremely cautious when depicting what is ‘important’ to themselves or to the outside world (i.e. a slim body, beautiful hair, flawless skin etc.). For many women, a mother’s (slightly) distorted view of a healthy body, body image, or lifestyle can have an enormous influence on the rest of their lives.
The Post by Sarah Koppelkam
“How to talk to your daughter about her body, step one: Don’t talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it works.
Don’t say anything if she’s lost weight. Don’t say anything if she’s gained weight.
If you think your daughter’s body looks amazing, don’t say that. Here are some things you can say instead:
“You look so healthy!” is a great one.
Or how about, “You’re looking so strong.”
“I can see how happy you are — you’re glowing.”
Better yet, compliment her on something that has nothing to do with her body.
Don’t comment on other women’s bodies either. Nope. Not a single comment, not a nice one or a mean one.
Teach her about kindness towards others, but also kindness towards yourself.
Don’t you dare talk about how much you hate your body in front of your daughter, or talk about your new diet. In fact, don’t go on a diet in front of your daughter. Buy healthy food. Cook healthy meals. But don’t say, “I’m not eating carbs right now.” Your daughter should never think that carbs are evil, because shame over what you eat only leads to shame about yourself.
Encourage your daughter to run because it makes her feel less stressed. Encourage your daughter to climb mountains because there is nowhere better to explore your spirituality than the peak of the universe. Encourage your daughter to surf, or rock climb, or mountain bike because it scares her and that’s a good thing sometimes.
Help your daughter love soccer or rowing or hockey because sports make her a better leader and a more confident woman. Explain that no matter how old you get, you’ll never stop needing good teamwork. Never make her play a sport she isn’t absolutely in love with.
Prove to your daughter that women don’t need men to move their furniture.
Teach your daughter how to cook kale.
Teach your daughter how to bake chocolate cake made with six sticks of butter.
Pass on your own mom’s recipe for Christmas morning coffee cake. Pass on your love of being outside.
Maybe you and your daughter both have thick thighs or wide ribcages. It’s easy to hate these non-size zero body parts. Don’t. Tell your daughter that with her legs she can run a marathon if she wants to, and her ribcage is nothing but a carrying case for strong lungs. She can scream and she can sing and she can lift up the world, if she wants.
Remind your daughter that the best thing she can do with her body is to use it to mobilize her beautiful soul.”