Criticise your own body? It can have long-term effects on your daughter
I, like most women, have days when I am happy with my own body and reflection in the mirror and then days when I feel less confident and good about myself.
Don't get me wrong; overall, I have never hated any part of myself, and certainly, after having children, have a whole new level of respect and admiration for my body, but I would also be lying of I said I don't have moments when I wish bits of me were tauter and thinner and more flawless.
While I at times can feel self-consciousness bubble up inside me when I strip off, I am also so acutely aware of trying not to show it, trying to focus on what I love about my body instead what I don't love.
Not only because I am a firm believer in affirmation and the power of positive thinking, but also because I have children – in particular a daughter – whom I never want to for a moment look at her own body and feel anything other than love and admiration.
According to Psychology Today, self-derogatory comments about our own bodies can have a long-lasting negative effect on our daughter's own self-image.
"It is important for mums to be aware that our self-derogatory comments are not just hurting ourselves but our daughters as well," says Laura Choate, licensed professional counsellor and author of Swimming Upstream: Parenting Girls for Resilience in a Toxic Culture. "It is damaging to girls when they hear their mums criticise their own bodies."
In fact, Choate notes that one of the strongest predictors for whether a girl will have a negative body image is if her own mother has a negative body image. It also reinforces the toxic message pervasive in our society that physical appearance is the most important aspect of identity for girls and women. "Mums have to take an intentional stand to make sure that this cultural message isn't perpetuated in our homes," asserts Choate.
To help instil positive self-esteem and a healthy self-image in girls, she recommends keeping in mind that mothers are the mirrors for how their daughters see themselves. Meaning, of course, we should be celebrating our bodies in whichever shape, size, and variance it comes in. And avoid complaining about how we look in a swimsuit – or in any other clothing, and also don't criticise other women because of their appearance.
"We can't change the media, pop culture, or fashion industry, but we can change what we say and do to protect our daughters' self-esteem and resilience."