My daughter's quarantine, home-school uniform consists of a pair of jeans and her beloved Harry Potter 9 3/4 platform hoodie. The other day, when she walked into the kitchen wearing it, my husband said, "Your shirt says nine and three quarters, but you're a Ten!" My daughter laughed and gave him a big, affectionate shove.
First let me say that when my husband calls her a 10, he's not rating her appearance, and she doesn't take it that way. He's expressing his affection toward his daughter as a whole human being. He has done this in a million ways during her eleven-years of life -- everything from taking her on camping trips, coaching her volleyball team, helping with math and friend-struggles, playing games with her, telling her he loves her "spicy" attitude and repeatedly saying, "Never change. I love you exactly the way you are." He also builds her up by believing in her and urging her to do better. He leans on her to help around the house, read more books, get off screens, and develop her talents.
Their relationship gives me joy because my husband is a natural at giving both our son and daughter the nudges and the unconditional love they need to grow confidently into themselves and their bodies. When parents ask me how to help their kids develop a positive body image, one of the things I think about is how my husband naturally interacts with our kids. I know that when kids have adults in their lives who value them as they are, while encouraging them to grow in the direction of their gifts, and never harping on their weight or appearance, those kids have a very good chance of becoming adults who feel positive about themselves and their bodies.
I love talking to people about the experiences that supported their self-esteem and a positive body image. If you missed it, check out my talk on this topic with my good friend, Dr. Eynav Accortt - IGTV: Where did you get your positive body image?
I'd also love to hear from you. Please share in the comments below your experiences of being supported to believe in yourself and feel comfortable in your body.
-Alison Ross, LMFT
Special thanks to my editor, Barbara Cook.
Hi. I’m Alison Ross, founder of Non-Dieting Health in Agoura Hills, California. I’m a licensed psychotherapist and neurofeedback practitioner specializing in eating and body image. My favorite things are my family, my dogs, yoga and working with my clients.
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