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How to Show Your Daughter How Beautiful She Really Is

Apr 13, 2008
Does your daughter love her body? Or does she suffer from that nagging sense that she is not quite good enough?

In a culture of stick-thin models, our daughters are embarking on a dangerous path of body dissatisfaction, with dieting, bingeing, and purging. Fortunately, there are things you can do to show her she is beautiful just the way she is.

The Statistics:

The statistics speak for themselves: 80-90% of adult women dislike their bodies. 15% of women say they would sacrifice more than five years of their lives to be thinner, while 24% say they would sacrifice up to three years of their life.

We have passed this pathological dissatisfaction on to our daughters:

- 81% of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat.
- 78% of 18-year-old girls are unhappy with their bodies, and the number one wish of girls 11 to 17 years old is to lose weight.
- 51% of 9 and 10 year-old girls feel better about themselves when dieting, and 9% of 9-year-olds have vomited to lose weight.

The chances are good that your daughter is struggling with her body image. Here are some things to watch for:

- Going on a diet

- Obsessing about food choices

- Restricting her food intake and then eating compulsively

- Exercising excessively

- Reducing or limiting her social time in favor of exercise

- Avoiding social interaction that involves food or meal times

- Voicing dissatisfaction with her appearance

- Obsessing about a particular body part

- Comparing herself to her peers and feeling deficient

The fact is that if you are not proactive in affirming your daughter's natural beauty and self-worth, chances are she will be seduced by the cultural lies that tell her she is not quite good enough. Fortunately, you can show your child she is beautiful just as she is, right now. Here are 5 steps for improving your daughter's body-image:

1 - Become an example: When you improve your own body image and eliminate negative body-talk, this will dramatically help your child.

2 - Discuss the concept of beauty with your daughter - teach her to recognize beauty in people of all different shapes, sizes, ages, and ethnicities. Beauty is more than skin deep and is much more diverse than what is shown in fashion magazines. Let her know that the images in magazines aren't real; that they've been touched-up and air-brushed.

3 - Let your child know that you love her exactly how she is, no matter what. Encourage healthy lifestyle choices, but avoid suggesting that your child should look a specific way or be a certain weight or size

4 - Teach your child to be grateful for exactly who she is. If you are religious, you can teach her the following prayer: "Thank you God for making me just the way I am." If you are not religious, you can simply teach her to repeat this phrase to herself, acknowledging all the great characteristics she has, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

5 - Encourage mind-body centering activities such as yoga and meditation. Numerous studies show the health benefits of meditation. Learning to meditate will help your daughter reduce her stress and increase her ability to navigate the challenges of adolescent life.

Meditation will also help her become conscious of her thoughts. Negative thoughts and feelings can have a negative effect on her well-being, whereas positive thoughts and emotions have the power to transform for the better. Teach her that she can make choices about which of her thoughts she is going to listen to, and which she is going to ignore.

6 - Teach her to be conscious about her thoughts: negative thoughts and feelings can have a negative effect on her well-being, whereas positive thoughts and emotions have the power to transform for the better.

7 - Be there for your child! Take the time to learn about her friendships, struggles, and triumphs. This will allow you to provide guidance as appropriate, as well as catch behavior changes when they occur.

8 - Encourage conscious communication. Techniques such as Marshall Rosenberg's Non-violent Communication can help your adolescent to understand and communicate her needs, wants, and desires.

Ultimately, body-image struggles and disordered eating are a cry for help. They are often a way for adolescents to avoid coping with difficult emotions and manage the stresses of life. Teaching your kids important skills for stress management and emotional intelligence can help them develop healthy self-esteem and body-image.

Note: Although this article focuses on young women, men are not immune from eating disorders. If you suspect that your adolescent male is suffering from negative body image, the same principles apply.
About the Author
Sarah Maria is a body-image expert and personal empowerment coach who helps people love their bodies no matter how they look. She leads workshops and works one-on-one in consulting sessions to assist people in overcoming hatred and dissatisfaction with their bodies using holistic healing and spiritual principles.
Get her FREE e-book: "5 Steps to Loving What You See in the Mirror"
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