How to talk to your daughter about her body.

IMG_9615“How to talk to your daughter about her body, step one: don’t talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it works. Don’t say anything if she’s lost weight. Don’t say anything if she’s gained weight. If you think your daughter’s body looks amazing, don’t say that.

Here are some things you can say instead: “You look so healthy!” is a great one. Or how about, “you’re looking so strong.” “I can see how happy you are – you’re glowing.” Better yet, compliment her on something that has nothing to do with her body.

Don’t comment on other women’s bodies either. Nope. Not a single comment, not a nice one or a mean one. Teach her about kindness towards others, but also kindness towards yourself.

Don’t you dare talk about how much you hate your body in front of your daughter, or talk about your new diet. In fact, don’t go on a diet in front of your daughter. Buy healthy food. Cook healthy meals. But don’t say “I’m not eating carbs right now.” Your daughter should never think that carbs are evil, because shame over what you eat only leads to shame about yourself.

Encourage your daughter to run because it makes her feel less stressed. Encourage your daughter to climb mountains because there is nowhere better to explore your spirituality than the peak of the universe. Encourage your daughter to surf, or rock climb, or mountain bike because it scares her and that’s a good thing sometimes.

Help your daughter love soccer or rowing or hockey because sports make her a better leader and a more confident woman. Explain that no matter how old you get, you’ll never stop needing good teamwork. Never make her play a sport she isn’t absolutely in love with.

Prove to your daughter that women don’t need men to move their furniture.

Teach your daughter how to cook.

Teach your daughter how to bake chocolate cake made with six sticks of butter.

Pass on your own mom’s recipe for Christmas morning coffee cake. Pass on your love of being outside.

Maybe you and your daughter both have thick thighs or wide ribcages. It’s easy to hate these non-size zero body parts. Don’t. Tell your daughter that with her legs she can run a marathon if she wants to, and her ribcage is nothing but a carrying case for strong lungs. She can scream and she can sing and she can lift up the world, if she wants.

Remind your daughter that the best thing she can do with her body is to use it to mobilize her beautiful soul.”

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This is one of the best things I’ve ever found on Tumblr. I can’t say that my heart (or uterus) aches for me to be a mother, especially to a daughter. Don’t get me wrong, I love babies and I’m completely enamored by most of them. I just don’t really think I want my own. (If I could choose, I would have sons.) If I ever do have a daughter, this is something I would live by. But what I would add to it is this:

Teach your daughter that what she sees in magazines isn’t what she will see in the mirror, and that’s okay. Photoshop isn’t evil. But believing in everything you read without understanding what it is, that is evil. Don’t be caught up in dressing the way someone wants you to look, but remember everything has it’s proper place. Dress so you feel as though you could take on the world. Teach your daughter to NEVER tolerate it when a boy tells her she needs to change something about her body. Remind your daughter that you taught her to play soccer for just that reason. Learn and love your body because you were only given one.

The photos in this post were taken at some of the most interesting times in regards to how I felt about my body. The second was the night of the 2012 Marine Corps Ball, I only felt amazing because of those two men (and the 7 other people who happened to be in their apartment) reacting to me walk through the door. Tyler did a double take, kinda like my prom date did in high school. When the Marine arrived to pick me up, he didn’t blink twice. I had to ask him what he thought of my appearance, all he could say was, “you look nice.” Well, fuck yourself. The first was at my senior design show, I felt amazing because I wasn’t with that Marine anymore. Rather, I surrounded myself with people who only reminded me that there was nothing about me that I needed to change. I was finally listening to the voices that told me I was perfect. I still have that quiet voice in the back of my mind telling me that it wishes my stomach was flatter, that my butt should have a fuller shape, and that I should do more yoga and Pilates so I’ll be more flexible. I know it’s the Marine. I know he was evil for putting those words in my mind. But I also know that for every day that passes those words get a little bit softer, and I’m sure that one day I won’t even be able to hear them.

Over the past few days I’ve been really thankful for my dad. He never told me my pride was a bad thing, just that I should learn to control it so that it wouldn’t control me. He always told me that I was strong, and that I should look for a man who was strong like me.

But the best thing about my daddy? He always made me feel like the prettiest and most amazing girl in the room.  He has never once failed to remind me that my worth didn’t rely on any part of my body.
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