Giving birth to a daughter made me acutely aware of the messages I send to her, both verbal and non-verbal.
I desperately wanted her to have a healthy body image and not fall prey to the relentless cues by our culture that focus on superficial externals–flawless skin, couture fashion, model-thin–especially since most of what we see is airbrushed perfection.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest most women in our country struggle with body image. We can’t open a magazine, step foot into a mall, or walk through a grocery store aisle without seeing dozens of beautiful faces staring back at us, their age-defying bodies taunting us.
It’s just not fair…but mostly it isn’t realistic!
As a mother, one of my most important jobs is to instill confidence in and build the esteem of my children. It has been a battle but I’ve tried to steer away from self-disparaging comments in the presence of my kids, particularly my daughter–”I hate my hair,” “I’m so fat,” “I feel ugly.” Some days those things are more true than others, but if you don’t intentionally plan not to speak these negative thoughts, you likely will.
It’s also important to be careful and intentional with how I parent her; the words I use can encourage and challenger her…or deeply wound her. I’ve caught myself more than a few times starting to say something that needed to be rephrased. S i g h…parenting is not for sissies!
“Garbage in, garbage out” is great life philosophy. Make destructive choices with regard to diet and exercise and eventually it will take a toll on the body. The same is true to what we read and listen to; fill our minds with junk and negative thinking, and it will affect our outward perspective.
I discovered a simple way to encourage positive, healthy thinking about real beauty for my daughter, even when I wasn’t around to do it myself:
If you listen and ask for recommendations from your friends, you’ll find great artists and groups to download on your family’s mp3 player. Here are a few songs that encourage, inspire and cultivate healthy self image; I’d love to hear your suggestions in comments!
- Beautiful, Mercy Me (the most current and absolutely perfect!)
- Beautiful for Me, Nichole Nordeman (From Veggie Tales’ Sweet Pea Beauty, I liked it so much I blogged about it!)
- More Beautiful You, Johnny Diaz
- Mirror, Barlow Girl
- Clothes, Barlow Girl
- Isn’t She Lovely, Stevie Wonder
- Beautiful, Bethany Dillon
- You are the Sunshine of My Life, Stevie Wonder
- You are More, Tenth Avenue North
- Beautiful, Christina Aguilara
- Don’t You Know You’re Beautiful, Kellie Pickler
That’s a start…please share your favorite inner (and outer)-image affirming songs!