Parenting Lessons: Step One: Overcoming Your Fears of Fat

In today's world, girls have unlimited opportunities to achieve anything they put their mind to. Yet despite your best efforts to convince your daughter of this, the societal pressures on the female body - to be model-thin, to try the latest Hollywood diet, and so on -- could take a serious toll on her self-esteem. After all, self-esteem is an empty term if it doesn't include developing and maintaining a love of one's own body. Learning to love one's body means treating it respectfully, making peace with one's unique physique and reveling in a sense of physical competence. Body esteem allows girls to act with self-direction and create lives that have meaning. It allows them to view their internal strengths, rather than their appearance, as a projection of their worth. Teaching a girl to love her body isn't easy -- but it is possible. By following this four-step workshop, you'll learn how to ease fears about fat, boost your own body-love, lessen the impact of the media on your daughter and teach her the power of her own body. The end result: Your daughter will be able to move through the world with self-possession and confidence in her own body.

In a society in which fat is an anathema and where the message to stay thin is constantly being drummed into our heads, the most well-meaning parents tend to panic over their daughter’s weight, even when it’s a matter of baby fat or when girls are going through puberty, when their fat cells double. That panic can become part of the emotional atmosphere in a home, affecting all occupants. A child who senses a parent’s disapproval - and even the youngest child can sense this - will feel emotionally abandoned. And children who are struggling with issues of abandonment often soothe themselves with food. This means that a parent’s overreaction to a girls’ body can contribute to future eating problems. Fathers’ attitudes about their daughters can also make a difference. But since mothers and daughters share the same body parts, it is the moms who have the most profound psychological influence on the way girls view their bodies, starting as early as the infant years.

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