How to Raise Daughters With a Minimum of Body Shame/anxiety

I'm only one parent, so clearly these are not the only ways to do this, but this is what has worked for me. (So far. My kids are 15 & 11, so... <knock on wood.>)
  1. Keep your own body issues to yourself.
    We all have our own insecurities, that's fine. Do NOT talk about them in front of your daughters. Instead, find things to praise about your appearance. I instituted this early, and good thing! My oldest is basically my clone. Imagine if I had been disparaging my appearance all these years, meanwhile people are telling her she looks just like me.
  2. Ban all advertising from your home.
    No commercials on TV, no magazines or journals with beauty ads, I even turn down the radio in the car when commercials come on. Advertising is insidious, and they make money off our insecurities. You can't avoid it completely, but make your home a safe zone.
  3. Never use food as a bribe, reward, or punishment.
    You will be surprised at how often you want to do this--it's so easy! But resist. Resist!
  4. Throw your parents' "clean your plate" rule out the window.
    As long as they've tried a bite of everything on their plate, let them stop when they're full. (And don't do dessert--or if you do, make it a special thing, not every night. Dessert every night is a bribe. See above.)
  5. Praise your daughter for non-physical things, use non-physical pet names.
    "Hey cutie" and "Good morning beautiful" are wonderful, but use other praise and monikers as well. Some suggestions: Sweetie, smart girl, creative, imaginative, strong, fast, etc.
  6. Don't freak out about the clothes they pick out.
    This isn't to say you should let them wear anything they want. You are the parent and far be it for me to tell you what you should let your kid wear. All I'm saying is don't freak out. When you don't like something, take a deep breath, take a second look, and tell them no calmly, rationally, and without shaming them.
  7. Talk about characters they see in movies and TV, whether they are realistically portrayed.
    My husband is an artist and animator, so we're lucky in that my kids have seen first hand how images can be drawn and photoshopped to the point of non-reality. Compare TV characters to the sizes & shapes of people they see in the world around them. Show them that you appreciate diversity and realism.
  8. Help them have healthy habits.
    It's easier for kids to feel good about themselves if they have generally healthy habits. Healthy snacks, active outdoor time. No need to obsess about it, just make it an easy part of your family routine.