How to talk to your daughter about her body, step one: don’t talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it works.
Don’t say anything if she’s lost weight. Don’t say anything if she’s gained weight.
If you think your daughter’s body looks amazing, don’t say that. Here are some things you can say instead:
“You look so healthy!” is a great one.
Or how about, “you’re looking so strong.”
“I can see how happy you are – you’re glowing.”
Better yet, compliment her on something that has nothing to do with her body.
Don’t comment on other women’s bodies either. Nope. Not a single comment, not a nice one or a mean one.
Teach her about kindness towards others, but also kindness towards yourself.
Don’t you dare talk about how much you hate your body in front of your daughter, or talk about your new diet. In fact, don’t go on a diet in front of your daughter. Buy healthy food. Cook healthy meals. But don’t say “I’m not eating carbs right now.” Your daughter should never think that carbs are evil, because shame over what you eat only leads to shame about yourself.
Encourage your daughter to run because it makes her feel less stressed. Encourage your daughter to climb mountains because there is nowhere better to explore your spirituality than the peak of the universe. Encourage your daughter to surf, or rock climb, or mountain bike because it scares her and that’s a good thing sometimes.
Help your daughter love soccer or rowing or hockey because sports make her a better leader and a more confident woman. Explain that no matter how old you get, you’ll never stop needing good teamwork. Never make her play a sport she isn’t absolutely in love with.
Prove to your daughter that women don’t need men to move their furniture.
Teach your daughter how to cook kale.
Teach your daughter how to bake chocolate cake made with six sticks of butter.
Pass on your own mom’s recipe for Christmas morning coffee cake. Pass on your love of being outside.
Maybe you and your daughter both have thick thighs or wide ribcages. It’s easy to hate these non-size zero body parts. Don’t. Tell your daughter that with her legs she can run a marathon if she wants to, and her ribcage is nothing but a carrying case for strong lungs. She can scream and she can sing and she can lift up the world, if she wants.
Remind your daughter that the best thing she can do with her body is to use it to mobilize her beautiful soul.
I miss you.
Thirteen years ago I came home from summer day camp and I immediately knew something was wrong when I was asked to have a seat at the table.
Your heart let you down. They did the best they could. You were gone.
I miss the way you smiled with your whole face, and the big reading glasses that you wore - the ones where I popped the lens out that one time when I was reaching up onto the counter for an apple. You never scolded me, just popped it back in place and hoisted me back onto your lap to finish watching the soccer game. GOAL! Porca Miseria!
I miss the way you would cover my eyes when we were watching scary movies together, when the gross parts happened and Nonna would yell at you to change the channel. “Alberta, she’s a big girl! Don’t worry!” and we would lock eyes with raised eyebrows and then burst out laughing.
You taught me how to drop kick a soccerball, across the street at the playground. Then we would venture down the walking path behind the playground to the little store where I knew a strawberry shortcake Good Humor bar was waiting for me. You taught me why branch stumps had to be tarred, and how to pick the leaves of the ‘prezzemolo’ for the pasta sauce. You let me eat the olives on your work table when you made your yearly giardinieras and other pickled goodies. You always saved me an oatmeal raisin cookie from the secret stash in your work van to eat on the way to the Superstore.
You embraced and nurtured the child in me, letting me play and laugh and explore the little world you and Nonna created for me. I always felt the strength of your love and the pride you felt in your grandkids.
65 was too young. You’ll always be my strong, goofy, gentle, wonderful Nonno.
I hope they serve ‘cicino’ up there, wherever you are.
I love you.