Too many girls continue to worry about their body shape and appearance; no surprise, given how continually they are assaulted by cultural and marketing messages insisting that how they look is more important than who they are.
In her book Father Hunger: Fathers, Daughters, and the Pursuit of Thinness, Dr. Margo D. Maine PhD offers some concrete, constructive steps fathers can take to build healthy self-image (especially body image) in their daughters and stepdaughters.
Here are Margo's first few tips—I’ll share others tomorrow.
1. Know what you don’t know. Learn about your daughter’s life. Don’t believe that your experience and hers are similar; in fact, you are years and cultures apart. Respect the differences.
2. Consider the many impacts globalization will have on her life. Think about the variety of skills and coping mechanisms she will need to succeed in her world. Do what you can to help her develop these.
3. Show interest in her activities. Don’t just expect her to tag along with you or to like the things you like. Enter her world, by sharing her music, going places that she wants to visit, and doing things she enjoys.
4. Take the quiz, How Well Am I Doing as My Daughter’s Father to assess the gaps in your knowledge about your daughter’s life. Commit to improving your score and take it again in 2 months.
5. Watch what she is exposed to on TV or the internet. Set rules about both; endless solitary hours with either are not necessarily healthy. Encourage alternative media, like the girl-run New Moon Girl Media.
6. Encourage her to identify and discuss her emotions and opinions. Let her disagree with you without withdrawing your affection. Show respect for the differences between you.
Learn more about Margo Maine and her pioneering work here.