What Your Daughter Hears When You Criticize Your Body

It’s not always pretty. Here’s why we all need to think before we speak.

How often do you get dressed in the morning, stand in front of the mirror to tuck in a shirt or adjust a belt, and say, “Wow, I love how my arms look in this blouse”? Or happily order a double scoop of ice cream on a sunny Saturday without mentioning calories or how you’ll “work it off later”? Let us venture a guess: not often enough. Instead, too many of us talk about our bodies like they are unruly, unfortunate house guests we wish we didn’t have to deal with. Our bodies can start to feel like a collection of disappointments—thick ankles, flabby bellies, thinning hair—that we regularly disparage out loud. And if you think there’s no harm in making fun of your hips or jokingly chastising yourself for eating a candy bar, think again. Your children are paying attention. And research shows that daughters of women who don’t like their bodies are more likely to be dissatisfied with their own. We asked young girls to talk about some of the things they hear women say. “My diet starts tomorrow.” “I could never wear a dress without Spanx.” “I was so bad today. I had a cupcake.” What if instead they heard, “I love how this dress makes me feel,” or, “It’s so fun for me to get to share a treat with you after school.” Let’s change the conversation—for ourselves and for our girls.