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Mothers and Daughters Unlearning ‘Good Girls Don’t Get Fat’

Mothers and Daughters Unlearning 'Good Girls Don’t Get Fat'

Between 85 to 90 percent of women are dissatisfied with their appearance, body and sense of self. The National Institute on Media and the Family reports that at age thirteen, 53% of American girls are “unhappy with their bodies.” This increases to 78% by the time girls reach seventeen. In a survey of girls 9 and 10 years old, 40% have tried to lose weight, according to an ongoing study funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Adolescent physical development is greater than at any other time of life, apart from infancy. Girls’ physical transformation frequently throws them far from dominant ideals of beauty and usually comes with weight gain. 

Appearance related teasing from peers has been found to be especially harmful to the development of body image and can have enduring impacts on confidence and intimate relationships and predict obesity and eating disorders.

Fat-bashing in all its varied forms–criticism, exclusion, shaming, fat talk, self-deprecation, jokes, gossip, bullying–is one of the last acceptable forms of prejudice. From a very young age, before they can walk away or defend themselves, women are taught that they are how they look, not what they do or what they know. ― Robyn Silverman

Mothers may influence the evolution of body image and eating disturbances in their daughters by modelling negative body image beliefs, and unhealthy eating behaviours. Research suggests mothers who are most influenced by media messages about thinness are most likely to have daughters with eating disorders.

Disrupting mothers’ unhealthy communication about body image and eating behaviours can play a huge role in breaking the cycle of disordered eating and body image in their daughters.

I’ve had so much suffering in my experience with being alive and with my body and I want to live my life in such a way that I can shape the story, that I can help people not hurt the way that I’ve hurt, and that I know that I can turn the pain that I’ve been through into something beautiful in my own life and into other people’s lives. – Hillary McBride

Where to start?

14 Ways to Promote Positive Body Image in Our Daughters

  1. Work with one of our child, adolescent and family therapists, Claire or Marina, at Therapy in Barcelona
  2. Love your body and let your daughter hear you praising your body for what it can do.
  3. Throw away the scales.
  4. Drop diet talk in favour of health talk.
  5. Eat as a family, showing food is more than calories, it is a meal.
  6. Cook as a family to show food can be enjoyable.
  7. Grow a garden so food becomes a miracle.
  8. Tell her she is beautiful and use the word beautiful to mean more than physical attractiveness “that was a beautiful thing you did.”
  9. Tell her she is more than beautiful, that she is clever, interesting, funny, kind, etc
  10. Be honest about your experiences with body image and the ways you have overcome concerns.
  11. Point out messages in advertising, media, etc to help her discriminate between unhealthy and healthy messages. Expand her views of what beauty can be.
  12. Educate yourself, read Books on Body Image and Self-esteem 
  13. A Mighty Girl offer 30 Body Image Positive Books for Girls  
  14. Join our collaborating child, adolescent, and family therapist, Marina‘s program for mothers and daughters (keep reading)

Would you like to be a positive body image role model for your daughter?

A consequence of female self-love is that the woman grows convinced of social worth. Her love for her body will be unqualified, which is the basis of female identification. If a woman loves her own body, she doesn’t grudge what other women do with theirs; if she loves femaleness, she champions its rights. – Naomi Wolf

In her work with girls and adolescents, collaborating child, adolescent and family therapist, Marina has seen a huge demand for therapy for teens and young girls who, starting around age 9, feel insecure, and struggle with eating disorders, body image, anxiety, and depression. For this reason, she has  created a project to support mothers and daughters in understanding the process of becoming a woman and breaking intergenerational patterns of self-loathing and body image and eating disturbances.

A Conscious approach to understanding the process of Becoming a Woman

You and Her. Mothers’ and Daughters’ Journey.

Have you ever reflected on your path to womanhood?

Becoming a woman through puberty is one of the most challenging and complex phases for a girl. The experience could be more  positive with guidance throughout the process.

Perhaps our mothers’ generation could not pass down this knowledge to us, because it had not been passed down to them by their mothers.

Have you ever imagined changing the traditions you inherited?

Perhaps you don’t realise that you could be the key to changing your daughter’s and your family’s lives. This project aims to prevent future disorders such as anxiety, low self-worth, depression, eating disorders and body image issues.

You are capable of and, responsible for, healing this heritage. In my professional experience, I see the importance of working on our own, and our daughters’ healing before and, as they are becoming, women. In my work as a therapist, I see more and more girls, tweens and teens struggling with body image and eating disturbance; and social media is not helping our girls to love and value themselves as they are.

It takes courage and daring to break this cycle and I will accompany you on this journey. 

I invite you, conscious women, to break this pattern and redefine the moment of becoming a woman. Healing ourselves and the people closest to us can have a big impact.

I would love to join you on this journey.

Marina, Therapy in Barcelona Child, Adolescent and Family Therapist

Contact Therapy in Barcelona to register for the program

By Marina

By Leigh

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