According to a University of Florida study, “Daughters'
perceptions of their bodies and subsequent eating and dieting behaviors have
been shown to be directly related to the verbal and nonverbal messages they
receive from their mothers.”
If your young daughter thinks she’s fat, you can blame
Barbie or the Victoria’s Secret Angels all you want, but it’s probably your
fault, since mothers are the No. 1 influence on daughters’ body image. What we do and say about our weight matter—a ton.
So how can a mama stay trim while being a positive role
model? Very carefully.
In most areas of life—sex, drugs, fears, feelings—I believe
in being as open and honest with my daughter as I possibly can. Dieting is the exception. I have a strict no-diet-talk policy in our
household, and I’ve had to enforce it with relatives and friends. Here’s how it works:
someone “fat” … or “thin.” Just as I wouldn’t go out of my way to identify
someone by their race, I never make weight a defining characteristic unless I’m
talking about a bowling ball.
I try not to weigh myself in front of my daughter
doesn’t matter. Don’t talk about losing 5 pounds or fitting into a size
6. Your growing daughter is supposed to be getting bigger as she
reaches maturity, but she could start to panic as the numbers rise if she knows
you’re obsessed with dropping inches and pounds.
demonizing food. We rail about the evils of fat, calories and carbs, when in
reality we require all of these things to live. Keep food talk positive, and frame it in terms of what our bodies need to
feel good. For example, “Healthy foods help us grow and give us energy. Treats are fun, but eating too many can give
you a tummy ache or make you feel sleepy.”
and euphemisms. When I’m off to my Weight Watchers meeting, it’s “The W.W.” I’ll ask for the 1 percent milk instead of
saying low fat. If I’m complimenting a
friend’s weight loss, I’ll tell her she looks fabulous—not skinny or tiny. An older kid might crack my code, but I’m
good for awhile.
disparage your body. My daughter thinks mommy is beautiful. She also thinks I look like a mommy. Wouldn’t it be confusing to hear me ragging
on parts of my body, like my muffin top? Especially since I got my muffin top from having her—so, so worth
scale. I try not to weigh myself in front of my daughter, but as we all
know, 3-year-olds can be hard to shake (she’s already seen me insert a tampon
and take a home pregnancy test). If she
catches me on the scale, I’m careful to stay neutral, and never appear
crestfallen or discouraged. Whatever I
weigh today is fine with me, or so it seems.
7.Make fitness fun. It does your daughter no good to hear you bitching and moaning about using (or not using) the treadmill. Instead of treating exercise like a chore, try to incorporate it into family life in fun ways, from weekend nature hikes to living room dance parties.
hope that following these rules will help safeguard my daughter against body
dysmorphia and eating disorders. I also
hope that I can quietly melt the muffin top (that’s my code for lose 10
pounds!) so that my daughter’s mommy has more energy for those dance