Jump to content
  • Michelle Taufmann

    Michelle Taufmann, LCSW is a Certified Mindfulness Consultant with 15+ years of mindfulness training/experience and Psychotherapist at Concentric Counseling & Consulting.

    Moms, you're the key to your daughters' positive body image

    Girls’ attitudes toward their bodies are most influenced by their mothers. Here's how to project a positive body image to your daughter.


    How do we equip girls with a positive body image? It’s a perennial question that doesn’t seem to fade no matter the advances of women in society. Articles in the press in recent years suggest that girls’ attitudes toward their bodies are most influenced by their mothers. While media messages, stereotypes and peer judgments may contribute to poor body image, mothers are their daughters' primary teacher when it comes to attitudes toward the body and physical appearance.

    How do mothers influence their daughters’ body image a positive way? They focus their attention on the function and ability of body. When mothers appreciate their own and their daughters’ bodies for what they are capable of—strength, endurance, flexibility, resilience, defense against illness, healing—they help their daughters develop a positive perspective on their bodies. This one may be obvious, but is worth saying for those who have any doubts: Mothers should not make negative comments about their daughter’s bodies or body parts (e.g., “Wow, you sure got my thick ankles, didn’t you?"). It’s even best to keep favorable comments about body appearance to a minimum to prevent over-identification with the body. Another “no-no” is encouraging your daughter to diet or “watch her weight” (unless it’s medically necessary). Even if dieting is her idea, or she just wants to do it to “see if she can,” or because her friends are doing it, discourage it and take some time to discuss the issue with your daughter.

    Here’s the best tip I can offer: If you really want to help your daughter develop a positive body image, project one yourself—or at least fake it till you make it. For example, don’t comment negatively on your own weight, body size or body parts; try not to get upset, angry or defensive if your body is the subject of comments from others (e.g., your own mother, the guys on the construction crew); and don’t deprive yourself of healthy meals with the family in order to follow a restrictive diet. And, finally, just say “no” to judging other girls’ and women’s bodies, including celebrities. Watch yourself on this last one—for some reason, body size is considered fair game for ridicule in many social circles where negative comments about race, gender status and immigration status would not be tolerated.

    Projecting a positive attitude toward our bodies can be difficult for those of us who were conditioned early in life to over-identify with the body. As much as we may try to avoid transmitting conditioned beliefs and attitudes about our bodies to our daughters, as long as these beliefs endure deep in our psyches, it’s challenging. What can we do? Get to the root of the problem. Be mindful of negative thoughts about your body, many of which are subtle and barely on the conscious level. This includes thoughts along the lines of, “I’m a loser/failure/weak/flawed person because I’m overweight (or can’t lose weight),” or, “I won’t be happy/loved/accepted until I’m thinner.” Every moment you become aware of a negative thought about your body, try to drop it. Don’t give these thoughts energy—ignore them…let them go. They are of no benefit to you. In fact, they very much work against your efforts in the long run.

    This is not the fast route to a healthy body image. It is a life-long process of rooting out the very deepest, basic reasons for our struggles with body image.

    Related articles: 
    Signs of undiagnosed ADHD, anxiety and learning disorders in kids
    How to tell if a summer camp is a good fit for your kid
    Want to make your neighborhood better? Consider your neighborhood school

    Michelle Taufmann

    Michelle Taufmann, LCSW is a Certified Mindfulness Consultant with 15+ years of mindfulness training/experience and Psychotherapist at Concentric Counseling & Consulting.

    More related articles

    Fueling Healthy Adventures: Tips for Nurturing Picky Eaters on the Go

    Juggling picky eating during family travels requires creativity, preparation, and a dash of flexibility. By understanding the reasons behind picky eating while on the road, at the airport, or overseas, and implementing practical tips, you can transform mealtime into an opportunity for nutritional exploration. As a dietitian, my emphasis is on creating lasting memories of nourishing adventures for your child, ensuring they receive the nutrients their growing bodies need.

    Chicago Tribune NPN Feature: Kids like to swear. Do I blame Olivia Rodrigo? Or do I blame myself?

    Is the new rule: Sing the swear words, but only while we're at concerts? Are celebrities making it more permissible for my tween to swear?

    Returning Home from Vacation: Five tips to ease the transition.

    Vacations are awesome. But what’s more awesome are the everyday moments that create your life with your children.

    Dear Teacher, We’re Taking Our Child Out of School for Vacation

    It used to be a painful exercise when I had to write a note to our son’s teachers to let them know we would be taking our son out of school for a family vacation. The guilt would sink in and I would s...

  • Join NPN!
    Become a part of our Chicago parenting community. Learn about member benefits and start connecting to other city parents today!

Privacy Policy Membership Terms

© 2024 Neighborhood Parents Network of Chicago

  • Create New...

Important Information

Thank you for visiting our site. Browsing this site is an acceptance of our We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. and Terms of Use.