What My Daughter Taught Me About Body Image

Sometimes the best advice about body image, exercise and diet comes from people who are complete amateurs. Forget doctors, diet book authors and body image gurus. If you want pure, unencumbered joy and pride in your body, then just watch a four-year-old child.

While body hatred has become widespread for adult women — and increasingly men — we only need to look at children to know the difference between what’s natural and what’s culturally imposed nonsense.

On that note, this is what my daughter has taught me about my body.

1. You can observe differences in people’s bodies without it being a judgment about their characters

The other day my daughter Violet commented that my bottom was too big for the toilet seat.

As you might imagine, I was horrified by the statement. Then I realised that she was merely observing that, unlike her bottom that almost falls through the hole in the seat, my bottom does indeed protrude over the sides.

Similarly, when she asks something like ‘Why is that man fat?’, as she did while standing in the bank queue recently, she was expressing the same level of curiosity as if she were to ask why he was wearing a red t-shirt.

Fortunately, having learned from the toilet seat experience, I was ready with a response. “Everyone is different,” I told her. “Just as people have different heights and different skin colour, they are also different weights.”

And, having yet to be poisoned by our fat-phobic society, that was all the explanation she required.

Children notice differences in people’s bodies and appearance but we’re the ones who teach them to attribute value judgments to those differences. When we teach them to judge other people, we are also training them to judge themselves.


4 thoughts on “What My Daughter Taught Me About Body Image

  1. Hi Kasey,
    A friend just put on facebook an excerpt from your book ‘Dear Mum’.
    I have a 6 yr old grand-daughter who is already worried about body image. Her Mum and Grandmother are always dieting and now she thinks she can’t eat much because she might get fat…she is very thin. Is it possible to purchase this book still?
    Kind regards,

    1. Hi Fay, thanks for your message and I’m sorry to hear about your granddaughter. It’s heartbreaking. My letter to my mum is from a collection of stories published in Australia for Mother’s Day. The hardcopy is no longer available but you can still get a kindle version on Amazon. The book is called ‘Dear Mum’ by Julia Morris.

  2. Hi Kasey, I also just saw the excerpt from “Dear Mum” and I just wanted to say thank you. i really needed to see that. I am guilty of doing the exact same thing. But I never stopped to think about how it could affect my daughter. Or my sons, who might base the way they see/think of women, on me. My daughter (age 7) has asked if she is fat or comments that she feels fat…i thought it was society and now I realize it is ME…I’m the one screwing her up by voicing my own problems with my own self esteem. It is a real eye opener. Thank you again. I really needed to see this and it has changed the way I am going to parent.

  3. Hi Casey. I too saw the dear mum piece on facebook. It moved me to tears because it struck a chord so deep within myself and my relationship with my mother. Just wanted to say that u are incredibly talented and that piece of writing hold so much beauty and truth to so many women.

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