What Do We Tell Our Girls

I am powerfulThis is one of the questions that I get a lot when I give talks – how do we raise girls to love and respect themselves in a world where they are told very clearly that they are not and will never be enough. Girls are rewarded for being “cute” while being flooded with images of a single, unattainable, photoshopped stereotype of beauty.  They are inundated with the idea that their value as a human being is inextricably tied to how close they can get to that stereotype, and how attractive they are to men.

The truth is that there ARE major rewards for meeting the stereotype of beauty and serious consequences for failing.  Fat women get hired less and paid less than their thin counterparts.  Women who refuse to wear make-up are seen as unprofessional – including by other women.  Women who refuse to wear high heels are seen as matronly, unsexy, and unfashionable.   Social approval is very important to a lot of girls and you can get more of it if you meet the standard of beauty; that’s why we love make-over shows so much, because it’s not a new look, it’s a new social standing, and that’s precisely why the idea is so damaging.

So what do we tell our girls?  I’m not claiming for a second to be an expert on childhood development, but here is what I wish more people would have told me:

The world is massively screwed up when it comes to beauty, body image and health.  It’s not you, it’s the current culture that we all live in.  Once you can separate your actual intrinsic self esteem (that you know you are amazing) from the messages that you should base your self-esteem on standards of beauty that were (as my friend CJ Legare says) created to steal your self-esteem, cheapen it, and sell it back to you at a profit, then no matter whether you choose to work the system, reject the system, or something in between you can stay ok within yourself.

I think we should do whatever we can to help girls see their bodies as amazing and worthy of love and care. I think we should give them access to as many different kinds of food and movement as we can without pressure or obligation.  I think we should teach them that those who suggest that weight is the same as health, and weight loss habits are the same as healthy habits,  are no different than those who insisted that the sun revolves around the Earth.  I think we should remind them that “everybody knows” is not the same as the truth.

I think we should be honest with girls that we are giving them a pretty crappy inheritance when it comes to our cultures ideas about beauty and health, and talk about options for their own activism.  Give them role models like Julia Bluhm who got 17 Magazine to take a “no photoshop” pledge.  Help them see that the industries that oppress them run on their time, energy, and money and so if they  take control of those things, they take control of the system. Teach them that one of the worst things that they can do is to try to make themselves look or feel better by making another girl worse.

Girls are going to be bombarded with the message that they have to change themselves to fit in the world. We can choose to give them the message that who they are is already amazing, and that, if they want, they can work to change the world to fit them.

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Published in: on May 13, 2013 at 10:06 am  Comments (53)  

53 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thank you so much for this post. This is how we are trying to raise our girls…but sometimes it is hard to find the right words.

  2. Here in Germany there’s a major magazine – Brigitte, I think – that stopped using models. They use ‘normal’ girls, who are mostly students, to model the clothes. The girls are conventionally attractive, but don’t look like models. It’s great – and the magazine saves on paying for models, too.

    What’s even better is that most of the magazines feature women of all ages. It’s done wonders for my self esteem to see positive images of middle aged and older women – in the English speaking world, women completely disappear from the media after their 30s, making aging something scary.

    • Which doesn’t answer the question about young girls, except that I think if women of all ages and shapes are visible, it shows that the photoshopped young blonde girl is just a variant, not an imperative.

      • Showing young girls un-Photoshopped women of all ages, races and body types in a positive light is in some ways more powerful than telling them anything. It’s what we do, not what we say, that makes the strongest impression.

  3. Thank you so much. I’ve been dealing with the heart ache of talking to my mother yesterday…

    **possible trigger warnings–body shaming***
    My mom can be terribly cruel with body snarking and helped sow the seed of poor body image I work hard today to evict from my brain. Not only was it hurtful to talk to her while knowing she was returning from my uncle’s wedding, to which I was not invited (I didn’t even know he was dating) but she ranted about having to sit next to an Obese woman on the plane. Mind you, my mother isn’t small, either, but she ranted about the woman for a good 2 minutes before I got the courage to ask her to stop. I’ve never done that before, usually I tune out until I hear a pause. It’s not like she actually listens to me talk when I call her, anyhow.

    I want to thank you for your words with regard to raising the question of how to raise our girls to that they feel they are worthy. I also want to thank you for being so supportive and helping me feel that I can speak up for myself to the worst tormentor of my childhood years, my mother.

    • Oh Tara, that’s huge! I’m so glad you were able to do that.

      It’s terrible that all too many women learn the self-hatred from the one person who – more than anyone else in the world – ought to be teaching us self-love.

      • Thanks Twistie! I’ve often considered cutting off communication with my mom because of her cruelty, but she is my mother and I do care about her. I can love her without liking her. I chose to call her on special occasions and when I’ve got enough sanity points banked. And I screen calls from her so that I know what her mood is so that I can be prepared…

        I do look at her from the perspective that she was taught self-hatred by her mother and she’s not in a place to accept love, especially not self-love.

        I felt really good about asking her to please stop and change the topic. She still ended up spouting a lot of negativity, but mainly about things in her life over which she has the power to change yet she chooses not to. *sigh*

  4. This is such a huge battle already. My daughter came home from first grade and watched Dora the Explorer for a bit before saying that she preferred the half-moon more than the full moon (named “Luna”) because “the half-moon is thinner.” WHAT THE EVER-LOVING F#*&?? I never taught her anything like that in my home!!! This is purely tripe that she is picking up at school. Of course I went into a very calm discussion with her about—well, all the things, basically. Body shapes of all kinds are beautiful. We’re lucky we have so many differences in how we look, otherwise the world would be so boring. (And isn’t the fashion world boring? I find it absolutely banal.) And how the full moon is wonderful because she gives the most light!! On an unrelated note, I am homeschooling her starting next year, in part because I am privileged enough to be able to do so. It’s a clash of ideologies from the cradle, and blogs like yours (and others) are helping me so much.

    • I also homeschool and body image is one of the reasons, though my daughter is absolutely fascinated with fashion. I’m not sure how or why since I don’t have fashion magazines sitting around since those caused me body image problems when I was younger. It pains me to hear her talk about wanting to be a fashion designer though because I feel the same about it as you, but I do know if I constantly try to discourage her she’ll just be all the more attracted to it. I’ve shown her what fashion designers have to do, they have to get really good at drawing designs and sewing so that’s what we work on. Hopefully she’ll get bored with it soon and go on to the next thing…I mean she is only 6!

      • I think it’s wonderful that she wants to be a fashion designer!🙂 We all have to have clothes, and someone has to design them. If you focus on shielding her from something that brought you pain, you might find that she’s losing joy as well and learning that it’s not OK for her to like what she likes if you don’t like it. I see here how many of us are negatively affected by the things that hurt our moms. You could stop that cycle with your daughter by helping her look at the incredible beauty of the fashion world – richly textured fabrics, intricate style designs, brilliant colors. It’s a rich art form where there’s really a lot to love. She could be a revolutionary designer who grows up to design clothes for ALL sizes, helping women feel good about themselves. She could even end up being a theatrical costumer, or a drapery textile artist, and wouldn’t that be amazing?!

        I see so many ways you could foster her dreams and show her all the beautiful aspects, like talking about how there are so many kinds of people and clothes in the world and wouldn’t it be fascinating to learn about traditional clothes of India or Samoa (LOTS of big folks there!) or Germany? There’s an entire global education in one topic! How exciting could that be for her? It could develop into discussions of world music and cultural connections. I envy her being on the brink of discovery of so much our world has to offer. Dream big for your little girl. Help her see (and help yourself remember) that there is so much more out there than she’s seen so far. I urge you – don’t let the narrowness of your own hurt put limits on her world.🙂

        • I actually wish I could sew! I learned how to quilt when I was in college and that was always an enjoyable thing to do with my hands (before I had kids. Now I have no time.) I have started to learn to knit and so far I can make really long things that look like snakes and have no actual use. Your daughter sounds really creative. Maybe it’s possible to go into design, as Helena says, without taking on the negative sides of it. Really, Helena said it all. A cool activity would be making your own printed fabrics! Now I want to try this! My thing is, I don’t want to necessarily shelter my little girls from everything painful in life. Bullies poop up everywhere, not just in schools. Sadly. My hope is to give her really good coping skills for when the painful things and obstacles inevitably happen. I want her to socialize with other kids, I just don’t want her to BECOME SOCIALIZED by them or by the school. That’s where this “thin is better” talk came from I think — either that or from some well-meaning health/wellness program at the school.

          • Whoops, I meant “bullies pop up,” not “poop up.” Though in a way I guess they do poop up. /GIANT SHRUG

            • I rather liked that, personally.😀

            • I’m with Helena… I thought it witty and may end up using it!

        • This is a really GREAT idea! I home schooled my daughters and one of our projects in Social Studies was to cook a meal from the country we were “in”, we would listen to music from that country, study their traditional belief system and clothing styles. We made saris, got some hats from Mexico, kimonos from Japan etc. there was no Internet in those days, but it was still an exciting way to study the world. With all that’s available now, I wish I could do it all over again!

      • You might incourage her to follow her dreams, but show her the need for fashion in all shapes and sizes. There is a budding movement in the indy fashion world to do just that, and we can always use anouther designer who “gets it”

      • Holly, I’d just like to note that I became interested in fashion when I was just a couple years older than your daughter. My parents went right out and bought me a book of fashion history and set me to it.

        To this day, I firmly believe that my interest in fashion/costume history actually made me more accepting of different body types. It’s the historical/international aspect that really did it. Through that book – and the many I have collected on the subject since – I was introduced to the fact that there were fat bodies at all times in all places, that there were times when fat was considered an attractive enough trait that rich, fashionable women wore belly pads to make themselves look fatter, and that beauty standards vary dramatically by time and place.

        If all she sees are current runway models, yes, the interest could wind up harming your daughter’s self-esteem and perceptions of fabulousness. But if she sees how one era values being tall and another being short, one era is into huge shoulders and another prefers them narrow and sloped, one year breasts are emphasized and another year it’s hips… it lends a certain amount of perspective.

        Besides, when I was six I wanted to be: a model (until I found out I wouldn’t get to pick the clothes!), a ballet dancer, a nurse, a horse trainer, and the first woman astronaut. I was encouraged to explore all these possibilities and any other that came to me. I learned a lot of different things about the world and about me in that year.

        With a little thoughtful guidance, your daughter could learn no end of lessons that build her ability to be herself in the face of everything society throws at her.

        And that’s my two cents’ worth.

        • Twistie, you are so wonderfully insightful! This is a lovely way to look at the roots of fashion and see the positives. I learn so much from your posts.

      • I just wanted to add to the other comments saying that an interest in fashion doesn’t have to mean she’ll end up hating her body … I was a lot older than your daughter when I started to be interested in clothes and jewelry (high-school age, right when I was getting too big for the juniors department) but I never felt like I had to be thin to fit the clothes. If something didn’t fit, I would think “darn, they don’t make this big enough to fit my awesome body” rather than “darn, my stupid body is too big for this awesome shirt”, and would sort of have a treasure-hunter’s mentality going into the plus-size, older women’s department clearance racks looking for something I could make funky.

        (Also, it rocks that she’s interested in designing! And it rocks even more that you’re teaching her to sew. That’s a skill she’ll probably use her whole life, especially if she grows up to be hard to fit!)

  5. Sadly, it isn’t only our girls who are affected by the negative body messages. My 14yo son has brought home so many different messages. From other kids…from health class…from gym. Seems no one is immune from the thing-is-in message. And they aren’t being given good information on achieving health!

    • I meant thin-is-in…

    • Totally agree. I have a 7 yo son who has inherited my body type and is somewhat chunkier than his peers. He has recently been asking questions like “Am I fat?” as he watches our naturally-slim very agile young neighbor quite literally run circles around him whenever they play together. We have the discussions about how important it is to be healthy, active and strong no matter what shape our bodies are, but still…those societal messages are terribly insidious. I’m afraid it’s going to be a long, uphill battle.

  6. Excellent post. It’s weird, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone in my real, every day life talk about body image like this. It’s like everyone at work, school, family functions, social situations are too busy trying to fit their ideal standard to stand up and reject it, or even realize that’s all so messed up. Then I think, “ok maybe I can start bringing this up with people in my every day circle.” But it’s scary. Most of the people I interact with daily are in their 20s. Any ideas on how I could start a convo without getting strange looks?

    • Hi Ashley,

      This is a really good question. It can be difficult to bring up with ending up shaming the person who is doing the talking. One of the techniques I use in situations like this is depersonalized global questions. So when people start up with this kind of talk I’ll say something like “Wouldn’t it be great to live in a world where we could appreciate all bodies?” or “I wonder how our lives would be different if we didn’t have to chase this photoshop beauty ideal?” or “I wonder what the beauty industry would be like if we decided that we weren’t willing to try to conform to a single stereotype of beauty?” etc. Not everyone’s going to come along but usually at it gets at least one person in the group to think about it.

      Hope that helps,

      ~Ragen

      ________________________________

  7. I wish people would just keep their comments to themselves when it comes to body snarking. Little eyes and ears are always learning.

    One of my bestfriends was body snarking at the mall and so many little kids were around. I told her to can it, because I don’t enjoy hearing it and more importantly there are small children around.

    I’m under the firm belief if you wouldn’t say it in front of your children, then don’t post it on the Internet or say it in front of other children.

  8. I vividly remember the day I decided never, ever to watch another makeover show again. I was home sick and turned on some talk show that was having a makeover day. Specifically, women were bringing on their teen and twenty-something daughters who they felt dressed in ‘too masculine’ a manner.

    There was one girl who come on wearing jeans, a button down shirt, a vest, a tie, a couple chunky rings, a large watch, and a pair of quite elegant flat ankle boots. Her hair was cropped pretty short, the colors were all deep jewel tones that looked fabulous with her skin tone, and to this day I don’t think I’ve seen anyone who looked more comfortable to be who they were. She just exuded confidence. All I could think was “why the hell would anyone want to make this over???”

    When they got done with her, she was wearing a skimpy micro-mini pale pink floral patterned chemise ‘dress’ that barely covered her ass, four inch platforms strapped to her feet with eensy-weensy straps, and a tiny string of beads with matching earrings. Her hair had been puffed out as far as it would go. You could see how much styling gel and hairspray it took, too. Oh, and they’d given her frosted highlights. She went from no make up to wearing enough make up that I would have considered it too much when I was doing plays in theaters that seated 800 people. The pink wasn’t nearly as good with her skin tone as her previous outfit had been, either. Worst of all, she sat there cringing and utterly miserable trying to sink into the floor.

    But the host of the show, her mother, and the entire audience were enraptured by the change. See? She looks like a GIRL now!

    Meanwhile all I could think was how badly I wanted to run onto that stage with a towel for her face and a jacket so she could cover her body a bit and scream at everyone for applauding the destruction of an amazing young woman’s confidence.

    I don’t have any children of my own, but I’ve done my best over the years to help the kids I’ve known and had regular contact with learn that the best thing they can possibly be is utterly themselves, whoever that may be. I may be one voice in the wilderness, but at least they do hear one person telling them outright that who they are is more important than what they look like or whether they present themselves the way people expect them to based on what they zip into their jeans.

    • Twistie, I bet you’re a great “auntie” of influence! Keep up the good work!

      It saddens me although does not surprise me to hear tales like the one you mentioned with regard to makeover shows. To tear down that girl’s self esteem in front of a TV audience? So sad.

      Here’s hoping that our singular voices in the wilderness become a choir and we are heard and believed (it can be easier to believe the bad stuff than the good).

    • Oh, Twistie – that just breaks my heart. I hope that poor girl went home, took all that crap off and explained every bit of her feelings to her mother. And I hope that her mother listened.

      But I doubt it. Oh, the damage we cause when we impose ourselves on our kids and others.

  9. I’ve tried so hard to un-do the damage from societal input with my daughter. I’ve finally just had to stop and take a different tactic. She’s bound up in the social crap. I don’t body bash, especially in front of her. I don’t buy magazines that have diet focus or unrealistic images. I prepare healty meals and encourage activity. when she starts body bashing… I tell her I need her to stop or leave the room, I won’t listen to it. I found that when I counter her comments with positive statements.. I get the ‘you’re my mom, you have to say that’… by far, this is the hardest part of parenting a daughter for me.

    • The one line I am sure all moms have heard. I still say that sometimes to my mom, but not as much as I used to.

      The problem is that a woman’s “worth” is so wrapped up in stupid things that most girls and women don’t know what or who to believe, then choose to believe the mass media.

      I don’t know if this would help but my grandma said it to me when I was younger and before she died. “Beauty and attactivenless is subjective and holds no real value in the world, kindness, compassion, and intelligence does hold real value. Your actions will always speak louder then the things that are subjective and have no real value.”

      It took me years to understand what she meant. I hope it helps your daughter some.

      • Attractiveness*

      • Your grandma = very wise. I sing at funerals for a living, and I have heard many a eulogy. Never ever is a person eulogized for how thin they were. Families gather and remember the kindness, the love, and all the wonderful things that made up the loved one’s spirit.

        • Thank you, I miss her every single day for the 14 years she has been gone.

          But you are right, not once in all the funerals I have been to, has anyone said anything about how thin or fat they were.

    • I don’t think I ever said it out loud, but I remember thinking along the same lines with “you’re my mom, you have to say that”…

      The hard truth I have learned is that moms do NOT have to say that their daughters are beautiful. I was one of the lucky ones (like your daughter) because my mom did say it, even if I couldn’t see it. But since finding FA, I have read so many stories from women and girls whose mothers constantly tell them they are ugly, or at the very least not pretty, because they are not thin. Having that basic assumption challenged might help your daughter really think about different circumstances in life.

  10. I definitely struggle with this. My girl has a ‘tom boy’ streak but I knew as she got to be around 4 that the division of the world into ‘boy’ things and ‘girl’ things was coming up. So I abandoned ‘tom boy’ and replaced it with ‘action girl.’ A style that ranges from jeans with hearts or butterflies to dresses that she can run in, with shorts so that I never have to tell her to pull her dress down when she’s climbing a tree. And of course action girls love to exercise. In addition rather than focusing on weight, I focus on height. ‘Eat you veggies so you will grow taller than I am.’ But for all this this 6 year old has started asking if she is skinny and talking about her friend who is not.

    • I love the term “action girl”! I will use it from now on. We should use more girl-positive terms.

  11. I’ve always been afraid to have a daughter, because I want to do other things to bond besides go the mall and screech about shoes and whatever’s trendy at the moment. I don’t wear much makeup and heels cut my very sensitive feet. That said, as a little girl, I got the idea that people thought blonde-haired, blue eyed girls were “prettier” and I’m half-Italian with olive skin and dark hair. I ended up plucking out my eyebrows (it started off with just a few stray hairs and it progressed into a full-blown obsession) and I even Photoshopped my nose on some of my Facebook pictures to make it look thinner. “Jokes” from immediate family were huge triggers, but I also want to look different than when I met my ex, who was abusive. I used to dress like the girl from the makeover show, but felt compelled to change my style to attract different men and “look the part” of an English teacher in training.

  12. It isn’t just moms and daughters. I have a friend who’s 13 year old son is struggling with his body image. Somewhere along the way someone called him fat. He is not fat. He is of average body size. But he took that to heart and struggles with it. Recently a friend of his said something about him being fat and he ended up breaking down about it later. But the main problem is his dad. The man is always making fun of other people. He always has to be “on” like a comedian so he is always telling jokes and when we are somewhere public he makes fun of everyone. He especially loves to make comments about fat people.Recently they had a falling out with another family over some issues and this man chose to bring up the woman’s weight as to why she is not a good person. He did this in front of the kids. No wonder his son has such a tough time!! Everything behavior being modeled for him is reinforcing the idea that if he is fat, he is not worthy and not a good person!!

    Another friend has four young daughters. This woman is so very thin. Really, really thin. And she just recently decided to shed a few. ???? Just yesterday she posted on facebook about how those first few pounds are so hard to lose. I’m just stunned. How can someone so small embark on a quest to lose weight? I don’t know what she says around her daughters but what kind of message are they getting when their very thin mother is trying to lose weight??

  13. Timely post. I’m expecting a little girl soon. I know how society affected me, despite my parents efforts.

  14. “The truth is that there ARE major rewards for meeting the stereotype of beauty and serious consequences for failing. … Social approval is very important to a lot of girls and you can get more of it if you meet the standard of beauty; that’s why we love make-over shows so much, because it’s not a new look, it’s a new social standing, and that’s precisely why the idea is so damaging.”

    I think it is important to note that succeeding at the beauty standard has its own set of sexist consequences. You won’t be thought of as smart or competent. If you succeed people will say it is because of your looks instead of your work, they may insinuate that you slept your way to the top. If you are sexually harassed or raped it will be blamed on your looks instead of the perp. And so on. There is no way to “win” at this, the odds are stacked against all women.

    • This is absolutely true, thank you for bringing it up – I wasn’t thinking of it in the context of this piece but it is definitely part of the problem. Thanks!

      ~Ragen

  15. I have to agree that this isn’t just a girl issue anymore. With ‘metrosexual’ and the push for muscularly cut men, teen and young boys are feeling pressure. My son is fat. He’s healthy as a horse and strong.. but he has fat on his body. He’s a wrestler. From age 5 he’s been physically active and trained to move and manage his body. He was paired up with kids his own size to compete. Now at 15, he’s really packing it on… not becuase I feed him junk, but because that is the nature of my family genetics. We become very thick just before the last spurt of hieght growth. Also, he’s build like his father.. broad chest and shoulders, narrow hips, little butt. Like Foghorn Leghorn the Rooster…lol. He’s so affected by what people say at school and his self image is shaky. He wears underarmour under all his clothes to feel ‘sleeker’… not so flabby. Everyday I try to build him up and remind him of the really important things.. but society blows him down.

  16. Right this moment I am working with images of bears, and as I stopped to read this post, it got me thinking of how bears are designed to put on a bunch of weight so they can survive a winter’s hibernation. This is even more critical for females who will give birth and nurse one or more cubs during this time.

    I know, bears aren’t people and we don’t hibernate, but the human body is also designed to protect itself against lean times.

    Even with our abundance of food, plenty of people still go hungry and suffer from malnutrition.

    I wish we could get off the ‘thin is wonderful’ attitude and be grateful our bodies are trying to keep as alive and fully nourished.

  17. I don’t know if this is helpful or not, but I grew up in a very marginalized family. We lived in a neighborhood where we were the only people who were political, the only people who had lots of books, the only people who went to museums, the only people who ate whole-wheat bread. I was self-conscious as a child, but I also learned that being “accepted” by the group is not all it’s cracked up to be. At a young age, I figured out that no one feels right, everyone thinks there is something wrong with them, and the question becomes: do you conform? or do you accept your differences, your uniqueness? Do you hound those who are different, or do you reach out to them? For me, it boils down to helping your children — or other people’s children — feel strong enough to deal with whatever crap may come their way, strong enough that they don’t want to be like everyone else, strong enough to pursue their own passions!

  18. I think it was on this blog, some time back, that I found a link to the post that most resonated with me on this subject. It was about a woman who’d started telling her daughters that SHE was beautiful.

    The message was basically that it’s easy to find our daughters beautiful — they’re so perfect and amazing and unblemished. But we see our own faults and brush away compliments and bad mouth ourselves, and don’t realize that to our young daughters, we often aren’t just beautiful, we are beauty personified.

    The message we give is, “you may think I’m beautiful, but it’s only because you’re too young to understand beauty.” We teach them to doubt beauty and to look for ugliness.

    It’s been really hard for me to do this, because saying, “I am so incredibly gorgeous today, baby doll!” feels both untrue and inherently ugly, as if I’m something crude and offensive by owning my awesomeness. But I do think that maybe my getting over it will help my daughter get over it, too, one day.

    • I think saying “I am so incredibly gorgeous today, baby doll!” goes a little too far the other way.

      I think finding a way to drop odd positive notes into the conversation is probably better. Something like, “I feel good when I wear this outfit” or avoiding things like “I feel fat today”.

      Maybe you can get a camera out sometimes and just enjoy taking fun pictures of each other, just to show you aren’t ashamed of how you look.

  19. I am struggling right now about a situation with the child care provider of my 5-year-old daughter. This woman (let’s call her Betty) has said some horrible, horrible things in front of the children (warning: horrible things).
    Betty said that if she ever became fat, she would commit suicide. She said that if her boyfriend ever became fat, she would leave him. She said (if front of her 7-year-old daughter, several times) that she (her daughter) has SUCH a big belly (she’s not fat, by the way) and that she should eat less and run more to lose the belly fat. Incredible things.
    I don’t like that she is saying these things in front of my daughter, but I am particularly worried for her daughter who is being told repeatedly by her very own mom that her body is not OK. How sad! In a way, I guess she is trying to “protect” her daughter by encouraging her to change her body so that it becomes a more “socially acceptable” one, but really? Imagine the damage to this little girl. It breaks my heart.
    Any advice on how I could address that (very delicate) situation?

    • My first reaction was a right-cross, but I don’t think that is what you are looking for here.

      Maybe start talking about all the good things bodies can do and quote some of “The Good Body” by Eve Ensler?

      I hope other folks have more ideas for you.

    • My girl has several baby dolls and a doll that looks to be about 4 or 5. I have pointed out how the babies have big bellies and the old doll has a smaller yet still little girl looking belly. We also have a book called Breasts by Genichiro Yagyu From there we have had discussions about how bodies change over time and how her body looks right for her age.

      • Isn’t it amazing that fat on babies is considered so cute (it is!) but when it comes to children and adults, fat is completely unwelcome. Very strange.

        • Fat on babies is not just considered cute but necessary. My son was a small infant, and he’s never really been a chubby baby, he’s almost 10 months old and is a ‘slim’ baby. I get constant crap from people who assume we’re underfeeding him or who insist there must be something wrong because he’s not a traditionally chubby guy.It’s extremely frustrating to have complete strangers police my 10 month old’s weight.

  20. Brilliantly written as usual. 🙂

  21. Reblogged this on The Playground and commented:
    This is a great article for those raising daughters!


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