You'd Be So Pretty If...

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

Is It Time To Change Your Body Image Story?

Recalling feelings isn't the same as passing them on.

As I sat in church recently, listening to the pastor preach about the value of sharing stories within our families, I was struck by something he said: "We're all just one generation away from being forgotten."

Well, that puts life into perspective, doesn't it?

What he meant was that if we don't share stories of our ancestors with our children, our ancestors will soon be forgotten. I get that; after all, my son -- who was just five when my mother died -- remembers her vaguely as the grandma who always had gum in her purse. If I want him to know her, as I did, it's up to me to keep her alive in his memory by telling him who she was, what she meant to me and most importantly, how much she loved him.

As I listened yesterday, though, I couldn't help thinking about the flip side of the "one generation away from being forgotten" comment. When it comes to mothers, daughters and the body image legacy, that might turn out to be a good thing.

Many women can recall hurtful things said to them by their moms, or comments their moms made about themselves that affected how the women came to see their own bodies over time. But recalling is one thing -- passing on to the next generation is something entirely different.

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The pastor's words were a great reminder to me that I can take all the good qualities my mom passed on to me -- like a sense of humor, compassion for others and a willingness to pitch in and help -- and try to instill them in my own kids. As for the not-so-good qualities, like a tendency to be self-critical and to be disappointed in myself when I don't reach the high standards I've set? Well, I can work to change that legacy, simply by being conscious of it. I can change the body image story I tell myself -- and the one I choose to tell my daughter.

I can choose to let negative body image and its accompanying demand for perfection be "forgotten."

What about you? Are you happy to pass along your body image legacy or are you consciously choosing to create a new one for your daughter?

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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