Teaching girls to respect their bodies (and each other)

teaching girls to respect their bodies

A few years ago two girls asked my daughter if I had gained weight. It was a few months after I had my third baby and my tummy was still poking out a good bit (plus, I had probably gained a few pounds, to be honest).

My daughter came to me, wide-eyed, and said that her friends wanted to know if I had gained weight. They were standing behind her, waiting to see what I would say. (She was shocked and had no idea how to answer them.)

I was mortified.

And angry.

These girls were only nine years old.

Why did they care?

I wasn’t just angry that they would ask something like that (after all kids are wonderful at being honest, although I’d hope by 9 years old they would learn a little more about tact) . . .

I was mostly angry that they were paying such close attention to these things.

Our girls are so bombarded with the message that they must “be skinny” to be accepted. It’s mind-blowing. And sickening.

I try hard to protect my daughter from it, but it’s not possible to shield her from everything; just go to the mall and Victoria Secret has billboard size ads right down at eye level.

As mothers, we must instill in our girls (and boys) that true health is more valuable than being skinny.

They must know that there’s much more to people that how they look. Sure, we want to take care of ourselves, but how we look shouldn’t be our main concern.

It’s important our children understand that we eat certain foods in order to be healthy, so that our bodies will work to the best of their ability, not so we can look a certain way or attract a certain person.

It is of utmost importance that we as mothers, sisters, and friends, watch our own words. What do we say about ourselves? Do we moan and complain about our jiggly bits or obsess over the calorie content of our lunch?

We must learn to be kind to ourselves if we our girls to be kind the themselves (and to one another).

Let’s apply the golden rule, “treat others the way you would like to be treated,” to how we treat our own self as well. After all, more is caught than taught and our girls will be learning how to treat themselves by watching us.

There are a lot of other ways to teach girls about respecting their bodies and each other, but I think this is a great place to start.

balcony girls coverIf you want a little help teaching girls about kindness and self-respect, you might enjoy Balcony Girls.

The lessons are laid out really nicely. They are very simple to understand and implement.

They teach girls all about friendship, self-respect, trustworthiness, assertiveness, respectfulness, and more (see full list below)

I bought Balcony Girls last year to use with our girls’ club at church.

More Details about Balcony Girls:

The Chapters in Balcony Girls E-Book 1 include (virtues):
{Lesson ONE: What is a Balcony Girl?} – CARING
{Lesson TWO: The Good Gift of Words} – SELF DISCIPLINE
{Lesson THREE: The Value of Trust} – TRUSTWORTHINESS
{Lesson FOUR: Being a Confident Girl} – CONFIDENCE
{Lesson FIVE: Barbie, Beauty and YOU} – SELF ESTEEM
{Lesson SIX: Growing Teamwork} – UNITY
{Lesson SEVEN: Dangers of Two-Faced Girls} – AUTHENTICITY
{Lesson EIGHT: Open your Circle of Friends} – FRIENDSHIP

The Chapters in Balcony Girls E-Book 2 include (virtues):
{Lesson ONE: Hospitality is a Gift} – HOSPITALITY
{Lesson TWO: Speak Up and Stand Up For Yourself & Others} – ASSERTIVENESS
{Lesson THREE: Steadiness with Moody and Prickly Friends} – STEADFASTNESS
{Lesson FOUR: Respect is What you Offer a Friend} – RESPECTFULNESS
{Lesson FIVE: How to Protect Yourself from the Bully} – COURAGE
{Lesson SIX: Being Perceptive About Friendships} – PERCEPTIVENESS
{Lesson SEVEN: Giving Thanks Makes for Happier Girls} – THANKFULNESS
{Lesson EIGHT: Learning Forgiveness in the Garden} – FORGIVENESS

 

Comments

  1. As a public high school health teacher (on hiatus to raise kiddos), I got to attack this head on in my classroom. Unfortunately, most teachers don’t and most parents haven’t which meant the only kids – boys and girls alike – who were taught that healthy bodies are ones that function well and allow you to do the things you love were the kids from my class. I emphasized over and over that as long as they were healthy, their weight didn’t matter.

    On a related note, when I was pregnant last year, some of my kids breathed a sigh of relief when I told them I was pregnant (I didn’t tell them until I was 20 weeks along). I asked why they were relieved and one girl proclaimed, “Either you were pregnant or letting yourself go.” Who knew they had been judging me for the past how many weeks? Goodness sakes…

  2. Thank you for sharing this; I have never heard of Balcony Girls before. I think these collections are awesome and much needed.

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