I recently saw an article with the advice that a good approach to dealing with the issue of body image and girls is to just not talk about it with your girls. People seemed to love this idea, based on how many “shares” I saw of it.
I certainly get not criticizing your own body or constantly commenting on other people’s bodies, not yo-yo dieting or modeling self-consciousness, but not talking about it?
I’m assuming you’re all raising girls in the same world as me, where every checkout line is full of magazines displaying best and worst beach bodies, how to be sexy, what guys want, etc, etc, etc. Our own human make-up is going to bring all our girls to adolescence. With the territory comes a developing prefrontal cortex and biologically heightened sense of self-awareness and other-awareness, which is going to lead to comparisons and questions, along with a natural, gradual shift in weight distribution as we leave our teen years and become women.
Not talking to your girls about body image is like not talking to them about getting their period, not telling them how babies are made, not explaining what death is, not warning about being on guard against abuse, or not telling them how much you love them.
What I’m saying is, we need to talk to girls about their bodies.
We need to talk about health.
We need to talk about respecting and caring for yourself.
We need to talk about awareness without judgment.
We need to talk about uniqueness, culture, and era.
We need to talk about personality, attitude, and opinions.
We need to talk about creation, God’s image, and instrinsic value.
We need to talk to girls (and boys) about their bodies, openly, honestly, and positively.
We have a lot to talk about with girls about their bodies.
Don’t focus on what a “real woman” looks like – this only perpetuates the myth that there is a “normal”, a “standard”, a “real woman” who is neither a size zero nor a size 20.
There are many healthy body types, and many bodies that look healthy but are absolutely not.
A healthy body is what’s healthy for your body type. Don’t worry about what body type someone else was given, or how they choose to maintain it. Eat healthy, stay active, get enough sleep, and be thankful for your life, your strength, your legs, your shoulders, and your abs, whether you can see them or not.
Beautiful girl of mine, don’t ever stop believing that you’re beautiful. Don’t let me, or anyone else, tell you otherwise, and don’t look at anyone around you as though they are anything less.