My friend posted this on Facebook: http://hopeave.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/how-to-talk-to-your-daughter-about-her-body/ Go read it and then come back.
Did you read it?
So my first instinct was, "YEAH! Right on!"
But then I thought about it a little more.
Yes, it's important to tell our daughters (and our sons) that they're strong and smart. It's important to encourage them to be active for the sake of being active and healthy, not for vanity. It's important to encourage them to try new things, but not to force them to do things they hate. Those things are all far more important than outward appearance.
But the truth of the matter is, we all do have an outward appearance. Ignoring it won't make it go away, and it won't instill more self-confidence. You can't just wish it away. And while I want my children, both my daughter AND my son, to know that health and strength and kindness are far more important than outward beauty, I also want them to look in the mirror and like what they see.
So I tell my daughter that her hair is beautiful. And I tell my son that his smile is amazing. And I tell them both that they have lovely eyes. And I ALSO tell them that they're strong, and smart, and kind, and loving. And I ALSO tell them when they're being mean, and when they're making bad choices, and when they're acting beneath their maturity level, because part of a positive self-image is being able to see oneself in a realistic light. Their appearance is not their self-worth, but it is part of their self-identity. It's not invisible just because we don't talk about it.
You can't just ignore an entire aspect of a human being and expect it to go away. Our children have faces and bodies, and there are beautiful aspects to those bodies that they need to appreciate. We don't get to pick and choose the things that we'll talk about and just assume that they'll have a positive self-image if we don't ever say anything about what they look like -- that's not how it works. Because OTHER PEOPLE are going to say things about what they look like, and what other people look like. Good and bad. Every single day. So we can't ignore it. But we can show them how to appreciate what they have, how to love themselves on the inside AND the outside.