The Body Bully Within Attacks Our Body Image
Here’s just a few nuggets of the conversation from Good Girls Don’t Get Fat and The Today Show segment on body image and girls:
Who is the body bully and how pervasive is it?
The body bully within is a compilation of all the voices we hear in the privacy of our own minds that tell us we’re not good enough, we’re not thin enough, we’re not beautiful enough to be worthy. It allows us to compare ourselves to the unachievable—to the digitally enhanced, retouched photo of our favorite celebrities and the perfect girls at school who we’re elevated to god status when they’re likely just as insecure as we are. the body bully ruminates on how we fall short rather than what assets we have that can allow us to thrive.
Why do girls pick on their flaws?
The standard for thinness is so unreachable for the majority of girls and yet we hold ourselves to that impossible standard. By zeroing in on our deficits—on where we fall short of this thin standard- on which parts of our bodies don’t measure up– it’s a challenge to see our assets and our full beauty. We pick ourselves apart and we somehow believe that others must see all the faults that we do.
What’s one way that friends impact body image negatively?
We do something called “fat talk” which has become expected among groups of girls. A girls says “I’m so fat” and the other one says back, “oh no, you’re not fat. I’m the fat one. Have you seen my thighs?” And the self criticism is handed back and forth like a baton—a way to lift the other person up by putting oneself down so she can then return the favor. Even if the girl does not indeed believe that they are “too fat” when first engaging in this type of dialogue, after engaging in these types of conversations over and over, you start to believe what you are saying.
How do mother’s affect their girls?
Mothers have a profound impact on how girls see and treat their bodies. It’s all in what mothers say and do. We can imagine that when a mother says something directly negative about their daughter’s body it will of course impact them negatively. But the effect is similar when the mother is body bashing herself or even giving her daughter what she sees as a compliment—you have the flattest stomach! And it’s what the mother does, if she’s dieting, looking in the mirror and pinching an inch—this all provides the daughter with how she should be seeing and acting herself. It works the same way on the positive side. When Mom is saying positive things about herself and others in terms of their body, has a balanced diet and a full, active life, compliments her daughter on her appearance as well as her inner strengths, it’s going to send a message to her daughter about what is valuable.
Our daughters don’t forget the negative comments about their size and weight—they carry them like boulders in a backpack—always weighed down by them. So when they happen in our presence when our children are young, we need to defend. “Look at your daughter’s belly! You have to watch what your daughter eats!” to which the mother said, “Let me remind you that Leigh is going through puberty- she is becoming a woman and she’s just about the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.” Then she went on to talk about her daughter’s accomplishments and how proud she was of her daughter. These are the unforgettable moments that build our daughters up and allow them to realize their assets and strengths and her unique and amazing impact on your world and the world around her.
What about Dads?
Dads are often not included in this conversation about body image and girls and it’s frankly a big mistake. Fathers provide the template of what men and boys value in girls. If you have a father who has a wide view of beauty—who compliments and notices the beauty in many different types of women—who underscores his daughter’s strengths—both internal and external—you have a healthier daughter.
Fathers who step up and speak up about their values and what they love and value about their daughters are doing it right.
One of the areas I highlight in the book on chapter 3 is all too typical response of fathers walking out when the conversation turns to dieting, looks, and weight. But this is not the time to do what I call “ghosting” and disappearing. This is the time to say, “I hear what you’re saying and I understand where all these messages about fat and thinness are coming from but as a guy—not even as your father—I want you to know that men don’t think this way—this message is utter garbage. THIS is what real men value in women…” Fathers must stand up and tell their daughters what they think—debunk the myths and she will carry those messages with her forever—when she looks in the mirror or when she’s getting ready for her first job interview. A father must tell his daughters that they are beautiful and amazing and strong– and why he is so proud to be their Dad!
There’s much more– but this was just a taste. Looking forward to hearing your views on the segment and what you think of Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession is Messing Up Our Girls & How To Help Them Thrive Despite it.
Dr. Robyn on The Today Show: Body Image, Girls, Self Esteem & “Good Girls Don’t Get Fat” is a post from: Dr. Robyn Silverman – Child Development Specialist, Body Image Expert, Success Coach & the Creator of the Powerful Words Character Development System