My daughter is currently at an age of innocence, oblivious to the messages the media sends her about her body. When she looks at her body in the mirror she doesn’t think a positive or negative thought. I mourn the day that changes. At some point, she is going to see images of women in commercials, billboards, and perhaps peers on social media that our culture proclaims as ideal. She’ll take note of the areas of her own body that don’t match the standard. Mean girls will rip into her flaws along with immature boys unaware of the damage they are causing. However, the cruelest critiques will come from her internal voice obsessing over every imperfection.
Then there is the other end of the spectrum. She may have a body that garners positive attention, which she will use to boost her self-esteem and worth. Following the lead of models, actresses, and possibly even porn stars she’ll feel empowered by her sex appeal. I have an idea of which scenario is worse, but neither is healthy. When it comes to a daughter’s relationship with her body a father’s voice and guidance has a profound influence. [Tweet This] Here are 4 things your daughter needs to know about her body.
Note: Engage in these conversations early. At age nine or ten the messages from the media will already be settling into her subconscious. Look for opportunities to bring it up naturally. If you see a sexually-charged commercial centered around a woman ask her how it makes her feel. Ask her what she thinks the commercial was trying to communicate. Continue with open-ended questions to keep her talking. Who do you think the commercial was appealing to? Do you think it worked? Why? What do you think the girl in the commercial was communicating with her clothes and the way she moved? Do you feel pressure to look like that? Then make sure she knows the following points.
1. “The Ideal Is A Healthy You.”
Make sure she doesn’t believe the lies. She doesn’t have to look or dress a certain way to be beautiful. There is no ideal for her to reach other than having a body that is healthy. It’s okay to want to look good, but she needs to do it for the right reason. I believe her body was God created and given to her as a caretaker. Her body is a generous gift and should treated as such.
2. “Your Body Is Worthy Of Respect By Others And By You.”
She should never ridicule any part of her body and she should dismiss negative comments from others. This may be easier said than done, but it can be done with discipline and it begins with her treating her own body with reverence. She may say her body is in need of exercise, but she needs to be firm that disparaging remarks are not welcome.
3. “Don’t Use Your Body To Get Attention.”
Unfortunately, after working with teens for so many years, I see this on social media all the time; teenage girls barely dressed, striking a sexy pose in a vain attempt to collect likes and comments. The moment she uses her body to get attention she becomes a slave to the opinion of others. [Tweet This] Placing our value in the approval of others is not only wrong, it’s dangerous. When her body changes or loses its form she will be left with nothing. Let her know where she can find her true sense of self-worth.
4. “Be Careful What You Are Communicating.”
What she wears and how she carries herself will communicate a lot. Let her know if she wears revealing or sexy clothing it will give others a perception of her. Probably one she doesn’t intend. Boys will develop expectations for her based on this perception. Establish boundaries with her of what is appropriate and what is not. She can wear attractive clothing without giving everything away, even though her peers may be.
She May Listen To You, But She Will Definitely Be Watching You.
Hopefully, your words will become ingrained truth in the DNA of her soul. However, your actions will make a deeper imprint. Your daughter is watching how you respond to women, particularly her mom. [Tweet This] Every woman who turns your head or holds your gaze speaks volumes to your daughter. It will shout to her, “This is what attractive looks like.” Any disparaging remarks or attitudes about her mom’s body will be taken as a rejection of her own form since she is cut from the same cloth. Even when you are silent when her mom is putting down her own body says something to her. Be intentional about what your eyes and words are saying about her mother’s image, whether you are married to her mom or not.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your daughter and ask, “How do you feel when you see pictures of women in commercials?”