Pinching and complaining about your muffin top and crow's feet in front of your daughter can harm her more than you think.
Elizabeth Lindell: We all bemoan the magazine covers -- flashing manicured women because we worry how the altered and airbrushed fantasy can seduce our daughters into desiring something unauthentic. Do we, however, consider the messages our daughters receive several times a day from us?
How we look on the outside can be a reflection of how we feel on the inside -- and taking care of ourselves is an important value to teach any child. I also think it's important to own that self-doubting statements made in front of a young girl by the most influential woman in her life can have much more of an impact on eating disorders and eating control issues than random women in the media.
Statements like, "I look like a whale in these pants -- now I don't know what to wear. Don't take my photo -- I look terrible! Oh, my god, I gained five pounds -- no more baking. My wrinkles make me look so angry" should be saved for conversations with girlfriends, if they must be made at all. It is damaging for your daughter to hear these self-loathing remarks and probably annoying for your husband to hear them as well. If you want your daughter to love herself and celebrate her authentic qualities she must first have a role model who does the same.
If you're not quite in that place yet, fake it until you make it. If you don't want your teen counting calories, binging and purging or searching for a boy to make her feel like those women in the magazines, think before you speak. When you discuss exercise, talk in terms building a stronger, healthier body, instead of weight loss. When you compliment your daughter's appearance, notice the green in her eyes or the glow in her cheeks, instead of saying, "you're gorgeous!"
Think of the woman you want your daughter to grow to be when she is your age -- confident, beautiful, self-nurturing woman who likes and knows who she is when she looks in the mirror. Does she sound familiar? If this is the reflection that greets you in your mirror each morning, your daughter will become a natural reflection of your inner beauty.
|Elizabeth Lindell is a journalist, fiction writer, wife of 11 years and stay-at-home mom to a blossoming tween daughter. She happens to have lupus and bipolar disorder, and has blossomed herself, since moving to Los Angeles in 1996, from a small town in Indiana.|