The truth is, many of us are in abusive relationships with our bodies, internally bullying ourselves every time we gain a few extra pounds and externally jeopardizing our health with fad diets. Poor body image is passed on from mother to daughter.
Low self-esteem, sexual promiscuity, smoking, eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse and the list goes on, are all factors in how our thought process about ourselves manifests in our day-to-day life. When you have a daughter, your own issues need to be addressed so she does not suffer.
Self-esteem and body image are often at their lowest during teenage years. Youth can feel awkward, self-conscious and isolated and need all the support from their family.
Be careful what kind of a role model you are being for your daughter
A mother is the most powerful role model in her daughter’s life. Chances are, if you’re not happy with your body or the way you look, your daughter will copy your actions. If your daughter observes you looking in the mirror saying, ‘I look awful. I look fat. I need to diet,’ then she is going to learn and mimic those very things. As adults we need to be aware of the impact our words have and the messages we are sending out to young people. Make sure you are modeling self-acceptance and self-confidence in your own life.
Encourage your daughter hobbies and talents
Even if you don’t think your daughter will be the next Lady Gaga, don’t discourage her from discovering her unique talents and abilities. Instead of trying to protect her from getting disappointed, just be supportive of her and understand that she may have to explore several activities and she may fail a few times before truly finding her niche.
Inner bestie, inner bully
Your internal dialogue is the continuous conversation that you have with yourself about everything that happens to you. Your daughter may be saying to herself: “I’m over weight,” “I hate my legs,” “My nose is too big,”. To combat this, she could adopt an internal dialogue that says, “I’m going to accept myself. I’m going to love myself as I am.” You can help her to do this by buying her a beautiful journal or gratitude diary. In it, encourage her to write something positive about herself every day. Do this as a mother/daughter exercise. It will not only bring you closer together but will show your daughter that believing in yourself is okay. Recognizing and modifying negative thoughts about herself, making a positive contribution (such as volunteering), exercising regularly, and adjusting unrealistic expectations that she has set for herself are just a few strategies that may boost your daughter’s self-esteem.
Educate your daughter about the media
With so much attention placed on appearance and the prevalence of photoshoot images in the media, a teenage girl trying to understand what a healthy body looks like can be a massive challenge. Its vital that young women have positive body images as this will directly impact on young girls self esteem, confidence and overall feelings about herself and her place in society.
Young girls are bombarded with media images every day. Empowering young people with skills and knowledge that enable them to challenge what they see and the underlaying messages and straegies used by media, can help them to avoid taking on board these images so literally.
What is the most important goal for a mother?
The most important goal for a mother should be to help her daughter discover her authentic self, the part of her not defined by her looks or her achievements.