I think we have all found ourselves standing in front of a mirror and thought-yikes. Bad hair day. Bad skin day. Bad make up day. Bad outfit day. Just a bad day for looking good in any way. I can’t count the number of times I have said all of those things to myself- out loud. There is nothing wrong with having good hygiene and taking care of our bodies- in fact- both of those things are important. But I have become all too aware of the amount of importance I put on appearance since I have had a daughter of my own.
Every morning my daughter Annie (11 months) sits on the bathroom counter and watches me get ready. She plays with her hairbrush and her little bows, but for the most part she just sits and watches me. One day she picked up one of my make up brushes and rubbed it onto her face. It wasn’t until then that I realized how intently my little girl was watching and listening to me. Every time I said, “Bad hair day” she heard me. Every time I picked and outfit and said, “Nope, that’s ugly” she heard me. Our daughters are hearing our voices blending in with the world’s saying if everything about you isn’t perfect, you’re ugly. As mothers, our voices should be heard above the rest telling them they are unique, and they can be beautiful just by being themselves.
I have shared some of Dr. Robyn Silverman’s tips before, and I am about to do it again! Dr. Silverman is a child/teen development specialist, body image expert, sought-after speaker and award-winning writer and graduated with her PhD from Tufts University’s prestigious applied child/teen development program. She is known for her no-nonsense yet positive approach to helping young people and their families thrive. Here are 10 tips from her blog on how to create a better attitude about body image for both you and your daughter.
- Speak with gratitude about your body: Talk about what your body allows you to do instead of how it appears. Love yoga? Softball? Running around after your niece and nephew? Your body allows you to do that.
- Create a Fat-Talk-Free Zone: Make your home or at least the dinner table your safe haven. Make it a blanket rule. Hang a sign that says “leave your fat-talk at the door.” They are always welcome to pick it up on the way out.
- Hang around with body positive people: If you always spend time with people who speak badly about their bodies, your body or the neighbor’s body, you will find that your mind goes there too. Let your friends know that you are trying to embrace a more body positive lifestyle and language and spend time with those who support it.
- Learn your hot buttons and acknowledge them: Is it every time you look at a certain magazine, watch a particular show or spend time with a specific family member that you start to feel dreadful about your body? Notice what sets you off so you can make some changes or at least confront the problem itself. Stop that subscription, turn off the show and stop making lunch dates with that person who makes you feel like you are not enough.
- Realize where the voice is coming from: Whose voice is it telling you that you need to change your appearance, lose weight or cover that mole on your chin? Sometimes it’s someone in our lives now—other times it’s the voice of an old boyfriend, kid from the 5th grade or long gone relative. By giving the voice a name, you separate it from your own and can tell it to go fly a kite.
- Say good-bye to perfect: There is no such thing and yet we chase it. When we let go of the unattainable, we can embrace the person we are rather than focus on what we lack.
- Exercise to feel good rather than to look a certain way: When we exercise, we reduce stress, get the blood pumping and produce endorphins that make us feel great. You don’t have to do something that bores you! Dance, do a color run with a friend, box or get silly with a favorite child in your life!
- Do for others: When we volunteer and help others in need, it gives us perspective. There are many more important thing in life that how we look. Do something that touches your heart and gives you a sense of purpose.
- Be kind to yourself- now: Don’t wait until you lose “the weight!” Buy yourself a nice outfit that makes you feel beautiful. Go out to lunch with a friend. Get a massage! You deserve to be valued now because of who you are.
- Be a positive role model: It can be incredibly powerful to imagine yourself holding the hand of a young girl or boy—what would you want them to hear you say? What would you hope they would echo? There are always eyes and ears watching and listening. Be the example you always wish you had.
Brittany was born and raised in Alabama. She is a Wife and Mama of two sweet babies- her son John is two years old and her daughter Annie is ten months old. She has her degree in Home and Family Studies with an emphasis on Child Development from BYU.