Monday, February 16, 2015

For My Daughter

Next week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. I've been thinking about how best to honor and acknowledge the many people (especially young girls and women) who struggle with eating disorders every day.

I've been thinking about that especially as the mother of a girl: A not-and-probably-never-will-be-thin girl. What can I can do to support her? What should I strive to convey to her about her body?

I worry that I will say and do all the wrong things, mainly because of my own tenacious body-based bigotry and deeply entrenched ideals of beauty. And also because I never got the right messages at the right time in my own life. So I don't have a good model.

But I made myself a short list of the messages I want my daughter to absorb from me, to remind myself, and just in case society fails to do the job for me:

1. Your body knows what food it needs to grow and be healthy. Listen to it carefully, and you will grow exactly the way you are supposed to.

2. You will want to try fad diets, pills, shakes, starvation, and those wolves in sheep's clothing: juice cleanses and "clean eating." Try those things if you want to and feel like you have to. But be honest with yourself about what you're doing, and come talk to me before it's too late.

3. Move your body for these reasons, and only these reasons: to feel good; for the joy of movement; to expend energy; to feel strong and capable; to enjoy the outdoors and/or the company of friends.

4. Don't measure yourself against your peers or allow societal ideals of beauty to define your self worth. You have your own unique genetic blueprint. Whatever it is, it's your destiny, and therefore it is perfect.

5. My number one wish for you is to be as secure, happy, and confident in your own skin as you are right now. I don't know what the trick to that is, if there is one. It's a tall order. But I promise to do everything I can to help you love the body you are supposed to have, today and always.


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