5 Ways to Help Your Daughter Love Her Body

Today is the International Day of the Girl!

What if we lived in a world where all girls loved their bodies?  What if we lived a world where girls’ bodies were celebrated for their strength and ability instead of victimized, vilified, and commodified?  What if we lived in a world where girls felt safe to run and jump and dance and walk whenever and wherever they wanted without fear?

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What if?

Today, as communities around the world come together to re-image and co-create this kind of world, I am thinking about how powerful it is to help our girls learn to love their bodies…no matter what.  I am thinking about how powerful it will be to have hundreds of Go Girls! stand up in the face of everyone and everything that seeks to threaten them and say “My body is mine.  It belongs to me.  I love it no matter what size, shape, or color it is.  And I am going to do everything in my power to celebrate it and keep it safe.”

How can you help?  The best way to help girls love their bodies are to provide them with as many opportunities as possible to experience their bodies in positive ways:

  1. Model for your girls what it looks like to love your body.  This is number 1 because it is the most important.  I understand that we may not have had the best models ourselves.  We may believe that we have “fat thighs” or “bad hair”.  Of course we do.  Women and girls are inundated with messages that we should hate our imperfect bodies.  The way society is set up is not our fault.  However, we now have a responsibility to our daughters to do something about it.  We can stop the spread of these awful messages by never letting our girls hear/see us put ourselves down.  Next time you catch yourself about to say “oh, I really need to go on a diet” or “oh no, Mommy could never wear anything like that,” replace it with “I love that I get to exercise and make by body stronger” or “That’s a cute dress but I think I will look even MORE fabulous in this one!”  This will change both you and her for the better.  Sure, it will take time.  We have a lot to undo.  But, we have to start somewhere.  Why not be the change we wish to see in the world?
  2. Go for regular runs or walks.  Put on your sneakers, grab the dog, and hit the road.  The more your daughter feels her feet against the earth, the more she will enjoy it.
  3. Sign her up for a sport.  Even if she thinks she won’t like it.  Make her do it, at least once.  When girls play sports, mountains are moved.
  4. Dance and dance often.  It is my opinion that, like sports, every girl should take a dance class, at least once.  The integration of physical strength with physical expression is a magical combination.  It’s the perfect intersection of kinesthetic learning and emotional learning.  But class is not 100% necessary.  Anyone can dance.  Just put on music and go.  You do it too.  Regular dance parties – full of laughter and sweat – should be a ritual in your home.
  5. Practice Body Gratitudes – You may already share stuff about your day or about your life that you are grateful for.  Now, add stuff about your body.  “I am grateful for my hands because they help me make art.”

And watch this video with your daughter.  Talk to her about it.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CSQOUaWF4o&w=420&h=315]

Here’s a template for your conversation…

How does this video make you feel?  How do you feel about your body?  Which parts do you love the best?  Do you ever think mean thoughts about your body? Let’s practice replacing our mean thoughts with kind thoughts.

This post is #5 of 25 Tips to Teach Your Daughter to Respect Herself, Command Respect, and Respect Others.  Wanna make sure you get all 25 Tips for Bullying Awareness Month?  CLICK HERE and we’ll send ’em right to your email!
For more incredible Go Girls! resources for helping your girl stay safe, happy, and healthy in her relationships, check out Kidpower and get your copy of Starring Celia.