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Daughters and Self-Image


I want to talk about our daughters.

My daughter is 7. She is perfect in my eyes as well as her own. Everyone at school is her friend and likes her and she likes everyone.

My perfect daughter Gracie.

The thing is I was 7 once and I know things will change. I don't know exactly how or when it happens but we girls start comparing ourselves to other girls. Other girls are smarter, prettier and thinner. And we all know that girls can be mean and will point out that they are smarter, prettier and thinner.

How do I prepare my daughter for this? I feel a sense of urgency. This is the time RIGHT NOW that I need to ensure she has a high self-esteem. That she has a positive self-image. And how can I do that when I know I am guilty of comparing my daughter to other girls. Maybe I'm just human, but I feel awful about this - I compare Gracie's reading ability to other girls, I compare how she looks in her dance leotard to other girls, I compare Gracie's beautiful face to other little girls.

I worry about telling her she pretty too much. I worry that I'm not telling her she's pretty enough. Do I tell her she's smart as often as I tell her she's pretty? Am I over-analyzing all of this?

All I know is that when I put that single serving mac-n-cheese in the microwave for her because it's easy and she wants it I feel AWFUL! I feel horrible about it. If there is anyone that deserves my time and effort it's my kids.

And I know I'm being hard on myself. It's been a hard couple of weeks and we've dipped into the more convenient foods than we usually do. But I just feel this great sense of responsibility - and I should - I'm her mother. Who else is she going to look towards more than me on developing good habits.

And why do I not hear more conversations about this? In this day in age when we are all so open and you can find information about anything on the internet. Why don't I see more blog posts on how to talk to your daughters about their body image.

But it's not all about high self-esteem. There are some non-rainbow-and-unicorn things I need to be teaching my daughter and I'm scared to do it and I don't know how to do it. I want to teach her that she can't have snacks as much as she would prefer. Right now she asks for a snack and I decide if it's ok for her to have one or not based on what she's eaten lately. If I tell her no, she's fine with it. But I need to be having an open discussion with her about a balanced diet. I need her to understand all this before she's old enough to discover she can sneak food or that she can trade her carrots for Twinkies at school (these, of course, are the things I did when I was a kid). I need to talk openly with her about the fact that the decisions she makes now will effect how she will be as an adult. That just seems crazy to even type that and I'm starting to have a panic attack about this.

Ok - is this where everything is coming from. Do I wish (and sorry mom - i know you read my blog and will worry you did something wrong - you didn't - I love you. I love you so much, please don't feel like any of this is your fault) do I wish that I could tell my 7 year old self that when I get home from school to not eat one Little Debbie snack after another, to beg my parents to get me to move - to find something, anything, that would have gotten me off the couch. Do I wish that I could go back and tell myself that I like broccoli and oranges and brown rice and wheat bread?

Do I? Crap, I don't know. Sure it probably would have been easier to go through life healthier and thinner, but I am who I am today because of all of my previous experiences and I like who I am today.

Ok, I've rambled on long enough. You all have to have an opinion about this. So tell me your words of advice. Links to good books and articles. Please share with me - at least to let me know I'm not alone with worrying about this. 

This photo is from my half-marathon in November. I ran up to give Gracie a kiss. Her sign was upside down and said "OG Wow OG. Do you think things like having her see me train for a marathon and cheering me on at the race will help her understand the importance of wellness?

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