A Message to Moms…From a Daughter

Moms (dads too, but especially moms), please rethink how you talk to your daughters.
My photographer friends and I hear so many cringe-worthy comments said to daughters without a second thought. I’m sure they’re not meant to be hurtful, but they are whether you and your daughters recognize it or not.
If you feel the need to comment on her body, how about instead of “that makes your thighs look big” you say instead “Wow, your legs look so strong!”
Or instead of “suck in your stomach” you say “Stand up nice and tall and show the world what a strong, confident young lady you are.”
If she likes a picture of herself that you don’t love, avoid saying “You really like that? Hmm. It doesn’t even look like you. But ok.” Either 1) don’t say anything at all…if she likes any picture of herself, that’s a win 2) say “I love how you like yourself in so many different images that show different aspects of your personality!”
Avoid comments like “Your ears really stick out in that picture”. If you have to say anything, how about “I really love how you resemble your grandmother in that picture. She was such a strong and loving woman with a fantastic sense of humor.”
This one is a personal pet peeve of mine because it hits close to home… please don’t say things like “You’re so pale. You really should have tanned before your photo shoot.” Even if you encourage fake tans over real ones, you’re still telling her that the skin she lives in isn’t good enough…that it needs to change. And for God’s sake, don’t encourage her to get a real tan and risk cancer just to conform to society’s outdated standards of beauty.
Buck the system.
Say “screw you” to modern beauty standards.
Be a rebel by loving yourself, your daughters (and sons) EXACTLY the way they are.
Teach your children to think for themselves (more importantly BE themselves) and not to simply follow along with society’s standards of beauty and behavior.
It’s hard enough for girls and women of all ages to love and accept ourselves when the world judges us so harshly for not being perfect (no one is).

Your words to your daughter (and to yourself) should lift her up, not tell her she has to change what she looks like to fit into society’s standards.

(continue reading below this photo of my maternal grandmother and my aunts)

This soapbox message has been brought to you by…
The pale, awkward girl who was always told she’d be pretty… if she had a tan.
The same girl that is told regularly she looks much younger than her 36 years (thank you, sunscreen).
By the girl who hears and sees moms and daughters talking down to each other, to themselves, and generally not loving themselves.
It’s brought to you by a woman who still needs to read the words she’s typing just as much as those of you who are reading them.