Fostering a Sense of Worth in Our Daughters

Fostering a Sense of Worth in Our Daughters

It’s up to us to teach them that they are more than their bodies.

And it’s up to us to teach them that their bodies are beautiful, no matter what size or shape they come in—as well as that they can be or do anything, that they are not hot commodities but people with worthy dreams and interests, and that they are not playthings for the opposite sex, but their own individual selves. From birth, they will be told otherwise—from the media, from corporations trying to sell them things to make them accept traditional roles or change themselves, even from politicians who think they never should’ve been given the right to vote. Their worth, they will be drilled over and over again, is determined not by their character or deeds or simple existence as a sentient human being, but by what they look like—as well as how they serve men.

So how do we combat this when the battle has already begun even before pregnancy? Great question. Here are a few things that we do in our house with our six-year-old daughter.

  • Help them see that they can do anything! From field trips and talks with successful women to taking classes or teaching them everything from using tools to taekwondo to art to cooking, help them see that we, as mothers, can do anything, and so can they.
  • Read books and watch movies with strong female characters. Books like Grace for President and Violet the Pilot are wonderful picture books that inspire girls to follow their dreams and not listen to what others say about what they can and can’t do. Alternative fairy tales with leading females can be found here. Films such as My Neighbor Totoro and Ramona and Beezus help show girls that they can take adventures, be in charge, and lead their own lives. But we also need to push for more of these examples, since girls—while making up half of the population—are severely underrepresented in the media, particularly in these positive roles.
  • Stop the negative self-talk. We have to talk ourselves up not just for our own benefit, but for theirs as well. No more “I’m so fat,” or “I’m worthless.” We are worth so much! And you earned that fat by caring for others or otherwise, baby. Have pride in it—and if you want to lose it, fine, but don’t let it stop you from loving yourself and living your life. This is a hard lesson to learn, but it’s something that children pick up on so easily. Love yourself and your child will learn to do the same. I’ve recently taught my daughter to tell her that she loves herself in the mirror, which she thought was a lot of fun to do!

For even more ideas, be sure to visit the free Body Image Workshop at Pigtail Pals, as well as the other wonderful ideas at their blog.