In the past week, a photo of a woman wearing an Old Navy tank top and an accompanying Facebook post went viral. The woman who posted it told the story of over-hearing a mother and daughter duo laughing at the large size of the blouse. This is brought even more heat to the discussion of body shaming, but it also brings light to how a mother’s opinions of physical appearance might affect her child’s.
Laura Choate, a licensed professional counselor and a professor at Louisiana State University has spent her career writing about girls’ and women’s mental health. She is a firm believer that mothers mold their daughters’ views of body image and esteem even if they don’t realize it. A mother having a negative body image is one of the best predictors of whether the daughter will also hold a negative body image of herself, and that’s because mothers set an example by overly criticizing herself. Because they are constantly exposed to this example, they can come to believe that it’s normal for all women to feel this way, they adopt the views themselves.
All hope it not lost though – she also offers some tips for mothers who think they might be sending these negative messages.
1. Accept your weight, shape and overall appearance
2. Avoid unhealthy dieting behaviors
3. Model and healthy and balanced lifestyle
4. Avoid talking excessively about your weight and appearance
5. Avoid talking about others’ weight and appearance
Her take home message is that even though it might be hard, mothers can help out their daughters if they learn to value themselves first.