Updated: Feb 15
Hello everyone, Zoë and Ari here! We wanted to share about a topic that has sparked a lot of introspection, dialogue and healing for us both this year. Body image! Specifically, the impact that mothers and women have on young girls & other women. A lot of these conversations started as we did a book study together reading “Mothers, Daughters & Body Image” by Dr. Hillary McBride. We wanted to give a huge shout out to Hillary for writing such a beautiful book that we got to journey through together. Hillary is a therapist, researcher, speaker & writer. She has done beautiful & important research with body image and has a couple of books out that are phenomenal. Her book “Mothers, Daughters & Body Image” breaks down really hard concepts about the impact we as women have on others when we talk about our bodies. This is especially true with mothers & their daughters. The way women talk and think about their bodies is often passed on to their children. She ends most chapters with thoughtful reflective questions and we have included some of our favourites at the end of this blog.
We’ve been taught all of our lives to be kind to others. The saying, “treat others the way you want to be treated” is essential to being a good human being, but only if we include ourselves in the process. Hillary’s book helped me realize how quickly I am to lift someone else’s appearance up over my own. It also helped me realize how impactful and detrimental this lack of self-kindness can be, not only on myself, but on others too.
Whether it is a young child overhearing her mother relent about how she can’t fit into a certain pair of pants, or a group of friends declaring how much weight they need to lose, these messages have a powerful impact on whoever is receiving them. What we say and what we do impacts other people. Often, we contradict ourselves. The messages we give to ourselves about our bodies can be starkly different from the ones we send to others. How might this impact a young person? A friend? A family member? It is not enough to praise and uplift the bodies of people around you. We need to work towards sending a consistent message through our actions and messages about other people’s bodies as well as our own. Hillary’s book helped us to zoom out of our own individual relationship with our bodies and realize how we can affect people around us as a whole.
Here’s what we can do:
Before we can zoom out, we must zoom in and recognize the messages we are sending to ourselves about our own bodies. Start to recognize the internal dialogue you have about your body – what is your relationship with her like? What are the messages or thoughts you automatically have about her? How do these messages impact you emotionally? Taking a moment to reflect on our own relationship with our bodies can give us insight into how we may be impacting the people around us.
When we talk positively about our bodies, we’re also teaching and telling a story about other women’s bodies. This can be a powerful message for the different women around us (young and old). Imagine a world in which all women have a kind and loving relationship with their body. These loving messages would be ingrained in all of us, shaping and re-structuring the stories for all women to come.
We encourage you to look into Hillary’s research, find a buddy to work through her book with and reflect on how you talk to your body/who might hear how you talk about your body. These are links to Hillary’s book “Mothers, Daughters & Body Image” and to a podcast she was on.
We have included some of our favourite questions from Hillary McBride’s book. We invite you to reflect on each of them, and perhaps share them with the women in your life.
“If you could give your (current or future) daughter freedom from something that has weighed you down in your life, what would it be?”
“What could you do to get out from under that weight?”
“What might be some of the ways that you act and speak [about your body] that contradict the other?”
“What did your mother do and say about her body, and your body? Were those messages consistent?”
This is a topic we will be returning to in future posts, discussing various specific issues. Stay tuned!