Tween and teen girls often battle body image concerns every day. As the first man in a girl’s life, Dad has a big role in helping her out.
Dr. Margo D. Maine’s book Father Hunger: Fathers, Daughters, and the Pursuit of Thinness includes an excellent set of tips on how to do this. Here’s the last of the 3-part list (the first 2 rounds are here and here):
17. Rid your home and work environment of anything that promotes Body Wars or objectifies women. Magazines like the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and pin-up calendars breed body dissatisfaction and self degradation. Many mainstream men’s magazines are full of demeaning images of women. Look around carefully and clean up your space.
18. Let her find and follow her passions. Encourage her in academics, sports, and other activities, whether they are traditionally feminine or masculine.
19. Determine if her school has gender-equity and sexual harassment policies. If they don’t, set up a task force. This will make her world safer.
20. Don’t let adolescence scare you away. When she starts to develop sexually, stay close and involved, while respecting her need for more control and boundaries.
21. Encourage positive female role models. Be sure she has caring women in her life to help her learn about her body and sexuality as she moves through puberty, especially if her mother is not part of her life.
22. Raise better boys. Spend time with sons and boys, sharing your values and helping them to become sensitive to women, instead of leaving them to a misogynistic culture.
23. Let her get to know you. Share your life and interests with her. Be real and honest, and get out of the role of Superman. This will help her negotiate other relationships with male authority figures.
Learn more about Margo Maine and her pioneering work here.