How often have you mentioned that you'd like to shed a few pounds? Especially during this holiday season where parties, hors d'ouvres and special treats abound - how many times have you said, "I'd better not have another cookie" or had one and mentioned what it'll probably do to your less-than-desirable waistline?
I don't consider myself to be overweight, but there have been times when I've mentioned the probable effects of one too many scoops of ice cream on my thighs. Or how I wouldn't mind fitting in some of my college-era jeans again. Yes, I've said it, and perhaps my daughter was listening. But what effect does it have? According to a book by author Dara Chadwick, plenty.
"You'd Be So Pretty If...: Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies - Even When We Don't Love Our Own" is Chadwick's book about how a mother's ideas about her own body can seriously effect a daughter's image of her own. The former Shape magazine columnist uses her own experiences growing up and other girls she interviewed to form the basis of her book, which starts out:
"I grew up listening to my mom bemoan everything from the size of her thighs to the shape of her eyes. So you can imagine my dismay the first time someone exclaimed, 'You look just like your mother!'
I don't really remember my own mother making any negative comments about her own body. However, I do remember her going on a diet of sorts. And going tanning. And using wrinkle cream (sorry, mom, but it's true!) So I guess I might have grown up with the sense that I needed to be rigorous in keeping up my appearance. That lines and spots and grays and a little extra bulges that come with aging should be combated and thwarted for as long as possible. There are probably whole courses taught at universities about how to market this anti-agism to promote beauty products. But the media's impact on girls' image of themselves is a whole other matter. Besides, they say the voice that has the biggest impact on one's developing body image is a mother's.
As Chadwick's site states, the book is really a how-to guide on "breaking the mother-daughter cycle of bad body image." That if you have been making negative statements about yourself, that it's important to change the conversation you have about body image with your daughter, even if your image of your own body is far from perfect. Despite what peers or the media says about a woman's body, what you say could be the most important opinion for your daughter to hear; the one that makes the deepest and longest-lasting impression. Her book is available at many independent booksellers, Borders and Amazon.com.
Erin Boudreau is the founder of http://www.gis4girl.com, and online retailer of positive and inspiring clothes for girls.
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