Body Image: Your Mom Feels “Fat” Too

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Somewhere, we learn that skinny is beautiful. By nature, “skinny” just doesn’t work for everybody. When it doesn’t, our weight conscious culture can detrimentally affect a woman’s body image.

Crusaders of positive body image point fingers towards the people and brands putting stress on women to fall seamlessly into our skinny culture. Models, actresses, the mean girls in the lunchroom, and Abercrombie and Fitch all take a lot of heat for negatively influencing the body image of young girls. While certainly the pressures of “skinny culture” are popularized by these entities, the stress of being skinny may hit much closer to home. What if it’s a vicious cycle that started before we were born and continues not just through mainstream media?

What about our mothers?

The assumption of a lot of young women is that the societal pressures of “beauty” don’t reach their mothers. The truth is though, that these women warriors and carpool captains aren’t immune to body image insecurities. They diet. They pass comments about fattening thighs and bathing suit bodies. While for them these comments may be innocent, they potentially play a factor in their daughters’ body images. Monkey-see, monkey-do. Daughters will classify weight as a major stressor if it’s a prevalent concern in their mothers’ lives.

Research by the University of Florida details that mothers “must be aware of how their own attitudes and comments affect their daughters.” Ideas about dieting and food restrictions set by mothers for themselves have the potential to spark weight concerns for their maturing girls. In essence, remaining true to the cultural expectations of the ideal body may be a learned behavior passed down from mother to daughter.

What this teaches us is that the groupthink of “my thighs are too big” and “I’m on a diet,” all too often attributed to groups of young women, may not be restricted to that age group. The University of Florida suggests that best friends, as well as mothers, have the highest influence on female body image. While we should still be pointing fingers at ultra-skinny models, actresses, and the brands that support them, we should also be pointing fingers at each other and urging women of all ages to work towards a common goal of all-around better body image.

Mothers: experts suggest that women who lead a lifestyle with exercise and healthy food positively influence their daughters. Daughters: leading a healthy lifestyle will be a positive reinforcement for your mothers, as well! Positive body image starts at home.

Here are a few things you can do this summer together to start the revolution:

  • Take nightly walks together.
  • Start a Pinterest board for healthy recipes (and Instagram your culinary successes accordingly!).
  • Use positive verbal reinforcement – not the usual “I’m fat too” strategy.

Check out these healthy recipes. Not only are they nutritious, but cooking together also makes for a fun mother-daughter experience!

Your Mom Recipes

  1. Portobello Mushroom Pizza: Completely vegetarian!
  2. Vegetarian Quinoa and Avocado Salad: If you can’t stand cilantro (like me) substitute for tarragon or basil.
  3. Skinny Chicken Enchiladas: You won’t even notice that the classic (but fattening) enchilada sauce is missing.
  4. Herbed Salmon: Prep time is only 15 minutes!


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