You'd Be So Pretty If...

How to teach your daughter to love her body—even when you don't love your own.

Knock, knock...It's your past

Helping girls through body changes and middle-school awkwardness

Ever feel like you're in a time warp? That's exactly how I'm feeling right now. Last week, I received a copy of my soon-to-be-published book on how moms can raise daughters who feel good about their bodies. In it, I explore a bit of my own body image history, some of which involves my middle-school years. At the same time, I'm raising a daughter who's now the age I was when my body image issues began.

Still with me? Oh, good.

Now the time warp part...I recently joined Facebook and have spent the last couple of weeks re-connecting with quite a few of my middle-school classmates. Thinking about that time again - while watching my daughter experience her own middle-school days - has taken me right back.

I'll admit I winced when I was "tagged" in a Facebook photo recently (that's where someone posts a picture of you and attaches your name to it for all to see). It was one of me going to a school dance with two friends and to this day, I remember how uncomfortable I was with myself. I thought I was fat and gross and any of the other things middle-school girls often call themselves.

But here's the thing: When I clicked on the photo for a closer look, I didn't see any of those things. I saw a girl with a frame similar to the one I have today. Back then, I didn't know that what was happening to me was exactly what should be happening. My little girl shape was fading away to make room for the body of the woman I was becoming. I just didn't understand it: Why was I gaining weight? What was I doing wrong?

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As moms, it's our job to help our girls understand that what's happening to them at this age is normal. It's OK that she's putting on some weight. It's OK that her shape is changing. Body changes at this age aren't something that need to be prevented or addressed. The more relaxed we are about her changing shape, the more relaxed she'll be about the changes, too.

Yes, at this age, she's comparing herself to her friends and to celebrities, but make no mistake: She's watching you, too. Eating well, taking care of your body with regular exercise and talking about yourself in a positive way will help her see that there's a happy, healthy place on the other side of middle-school awkwardness.

Dara Chadwick is the author of You'd Be So Pretty If… :Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies—Even When We Don't Love Our Own.

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