Re: Setting the right example

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Posted by HSG on June 27, 2005 at 21:06:53:

In Reply to: Setting the right example posted by Melanie W. on June 27, 2005 at 19:40:43:

Thank you for posting that article. It was most enlightening, and it confirms the beliefs that many of us have held about the vital role played by parents in enhancing, or diminishing, the body image of their daughters.

The article makes the important point that it isn't merely enough for parents to avoid making disparaging remarks about their daughters' appearance. (That is the very least that they can do, and any parents who directly undermine the self-esteem of their daughters are truly reprehensible.) Rather, they must be proactive in championing size celeration.

As the article states,

Unfortunately, parents are often a prime source of these behaviors, said Phoenix psychologist Lorna Gale Cheifetz, who specializes in eating disorders.

"I believe the weight obsession begins at home," she said. "Parents are sitting watching TV and saying things like 'Look at so-and-so, she's gained weight, look at her butt.' Kids hear that."

Parents should make sure never to criticize other women for their curves, but rather, should praise them lavishly. Otherwise, their daughters will begin to dread that such negative assessments could apply to them, as well.

Rather, if a celebrity is fuller-figured, parents should celebrate them as embodying a more natural ideal of beauty than the artificial Hollywood standard. And even more importantly, if a celebrity gains weight, parents should applaud that individual, and note how much more attractive they have become--and they should let their daughters hear them do so.

The following point in the article also deserves repeating:

"As we all know, kids are also great imitators," Bravender added. "So if Mom is constantly dieting, chances are her daughter will pick up on that."

Perhaps the best thing for a mother to do to improve her daughter's body image is to reject dieting and gym-torture herself, and eat whatever she wants. Children and young adults famously follow the actions of their parents more closely than their words. Therefore, if the mother eats without guilt, and is proud of her own appearance, the daughter will internalize this positive attitude.

And finally, the significance of this point extends even beyond the context of this forum:

" If you walk around obsessing about what other people think of you . . . chances are your child is going to be that way, too."

One of the greatest legacies that parents can give their children is a healthy regard for their own beliefs, in lieu of a crippling apprehension of the opinions of others. Not "What will they think?" but "What do you think" should be the refrain that a children hears on a regular basis. This will make it possible for them to reject "dictatorship by society," and to preserve their own values, regardless of what the world may believe--or rather, what the media elite who presume to speak on behalf of the world believe.

Barbara Brickner modelling for Catherines. It is never too early for parents to point out images such as this to their daughters and say, "Look at how curvy she is--and look at how beautiful she is, because of it":

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