Four girls, four different body types, hair color and texture, athletic ability. And one mother who goes into a sweat at the thought of body image issues. I try to give them all kinds of words about what it means to be beautiful and specifically how uniquely stunning each one of them is. And I know I am fighting against the tide. That over and over in ways I’m oblivious to, they are getting intended and unintended messages about how their bodies should be. Here is a 90-second view of the messages all around us appropriately titled Onslaught:
Hello, darling, it’s overwhelming, right?
But the good news I hear over and over is that parents are the number one influence in a child’s life in all areas, including body image. So I try every day. And I’m talking EVERY DAY to give my girls messages that counter the onslaught. That focus on what their bodies are made for and what really shapes how beautiful they are. Here are 25 messages I try to squeeze in on a regular basis:
25 things I tell my daughters about their bodies and what it means to be beautiful:
- Beauty involves more than your body.
- I love the way your face looks when you smile.
- God made our bodies so we can do great things.
- Look at how long your arms are getting, you are growing every day!
- Show me how you jump. You’re so good at that.
- Hugs and kisses are meant to be gentle, not hurt.
- You’re making a healthy choice with that snack.
- I love the way you snuggle with your sister when you’re sleeping, your arms all intertwined. Your friendship is beautiful.
- Tall is great. So is short.
- I color my hair because I like how it looks. I have choices.
- Your legs are getting strong from all of that running at soccer practice.
- Its official, our family has blue eyes.
- You are made in God’s image. Which means you uniquely reflect him.
- Please don’t use your leg as a weapon.
- We want to be as healthy as possible, not as thin as possible.
- I love every freckle on your face. Every. One.
- That shirt is flattering. It looks great on you.
- There is no point in comparing yourself to your sisters. Nobody wins that game.
- No one else in the world is exactly like you. I love that!
- You have thick hair like me. You will love it someday. I promise.
- It’s so fun to watch you run fast. Run! Run!
- God made you that way, so it must be a good thing.
- Your bodies will change as you get older. Mine did. And it changed again after each of you was born. Totally worth it.
- Beauty is about all of you. Your spirit, your heart, your personality, your body. ALL of you.
- You. Are. Beautiful.
Bio: Alexandra Kuykendall is the author, The Artist’s Daughter: A Memoir. While she spends most of her days washing dishes, driving to and from different schools and trying to find a better solution to the laundry dilemma, she manages to snatch minutes here and there to write about the quest for purpose in it all.