How do we talk to our daughters about their bodies?
Well, you start off by telling her that her body is an instrument for good and not an ornament. You tell her that her body isn’t meant to be looked at, examined, ogled and objectified by the world and by her own self. It’s for activity, learning, sports, loving. Her body is her vessel to leave her mark on the world.
You tell her that her feet are meant to walk her into a future where girls don’t have to put up half-naked pictures of themselves to prove they are body positive. You tell her that her feet can jump and play and run to a place where body acceptance, although it represents progress, isn’t the end all be all—her feet are meant to DO MORE and BE MORE far beyond her body!
You tell her that her legs are strong and will carry the weight of women being pressured to look a certain way and say the perfect things, and to fix and prod and adjust and hide all the things until they are “just right.” You tell her those legs are meant to carry her to a place where she is recognized for her talents, her athleticism, her smart brain, and her amazing ideas, not for how her legs look in a miniskirt.
You tell her that her stomach holds her intuition, which creeps up when she knows there must be more to life than being obsessed and consumed with the way she looks or the way she eats, and she’s not immoral for wanting to eat a brownie or a cupcake. You tell her that her stomach doesn’t need to end in the word “pack” to be able to swim in a bikini, wear a crop top, or to fit in skinny jeans.
You tell her that her strong arms might carry babies someday, and they might pick up another woman who can’t see her own power. Tell her to use those strong arms to lift that girl, elbow deep in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, off the couch so she can go after her goals and dreams instead of hiding at home because she’s ashamed of the body she is walking in today.
You tell her that those eyes, those gorgeous, curious eyes, can see that the media is forcing these ideals down her throat and that the images she is scrolling through aren’t even the truth. They are shaded and airbrushed and smoothed and perfected. Those eyes need to see that what she is being told she should be striving for isn’t even real or true or reality, and she should open those eyes to more—to goals, to vision, to invention, to big ideas, to community, to change. To REAL change.
You tell her that her nose, that nose, can smell out diet culture and the skinny ideal that we are all being sold. You tell her that health has nothing to do with the size and shape of her body and everything to do with the way she is caring for and loving herself in that body exactly the way it is right now. It is JUST right RIGHT now.
You tell her that her heart, deep inside, beats for a purpose. That heart knows that women are amazing and meant for more, and if we weren’t so worried about the size and shape of our thighs, we could do amazing things in the world. Tell her that heart is beating to play, to create, to imagine, to get crushed, to love others and herself so hard today and every day.
And lastly, you tell her about her brain. You tell her that her brain knows that her body is the LEAST important thing about her and that her brain has thoughts, ideas, memories, and dreams. You tell her that if her brain power wasn’t being wasted on thoughts of body ideals that she can’t hit and overthinking about the food she ate or dreamed of eating, that she’d have so much more brain space to think about REAL issues and come up with REAL solutions! You tell her to use that brain to question everything, to think for herself, to empower women, and to dream a bigger dream.
That is what we need to be telling our daughters about their bodies.