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The Role that a Father Plays in Their Daughters Body Image

Are you a father, do you have a healthy relationship with your daughter? As a father you play an important role in your daughter’s body image. Want some tips on what you can do as a father to boost your daughter’s body image?   

According to an article at, “Fathers and Daughters Body Image”

“Research has found that daughters who have healthy relationships with their dads tend to be more self-reliant, self-confident and successful and less likely to develop eating disorders.

What You Can Do

Building a better body image is just as critical as building a healthy self-image. Here are ways to help your daughter build both:

1. Remember you’re a role model.

The experts in Nyhan’s article note that “both mom and dad set examples when they talk about their own bodies, eat and watch movies and television.” So be aware of the messages you convey to your daughter.

2. Call out bad messages and help your child analyze advertising.

We’re surrounded by self-objectifying ads and a pop culture that promotes sexy, skinny images, even to young girls. Just recently, Calvin Klein — a fashion design company swimming in controversy because of its highly sexualized images — unveiled a shocking image in New York City’s Soho neighborhood. Conveniently (for Calvin Klein), you can’t just turn off the TV to avoid the ad; kids and parents have to endure it every time they walk by.

Sexualized images in advertising and in the media can lead to shame and anxiety and are associated with low self-esteem, eating disorders and depression, according to a report from the American Psychological Association.

You can counteract these consequences by talking about negative advertising and teaching your daughter to think critically about what she sees. Some questions you can start with: What do you think about this ad? How does it make you feel? What do you think are the company’s motives? What is it trying to sell?

Jean Kilbourne, an international expert on advertising and co-author of So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids, offers an extensive list of resources here. In this excellent article, Diane E. Levin, the book’s other co-author, discusses practical tips, including talking to your daughter about revealing clothing and sexualized advertising.

 Canada’s Media Awareness Network also has advice on talking to your kids about advertising in general.

3. Check out expert resources.

The Dad Man is an excellent website that offers dads tons of tips on raising their daughters. Joe Kelly, who founded and maintains The Dad Man, on his blog lists 16 tips for dads to help their daughters foster a healthy self-image. Kelly adapted his tips from Margo D. Maine’s book, Father Hunger: Fathers, According to an article at Daughters and the Pursuit of Thinness. You can find tips 1-6 here and 7-16 here. Here’s a snippet of the valuable advice:

Know what you don’t know. Learn about your daughter’s life. Don’t believe that your experience and hers are similar; in fact; you are years and cultures apart. Respect the differences.

Encourage her to identify and discuss her emotions and opinions. Let her disagree with you without withdrawing your affection. Show respect for the differences between you.

Teach her to say no and set limits. This will prepare her for situations that might compromise or even endanger her.”

Click here to read the rest of the tips on body image:

Does your daughter need to find a healthier approach to body image? Want her to feel peace with her body and make healthier food choices? At ABC Nutrition Services we offer many services from nutritional counseling to group therapy. Click here to contact us for more information on how we can help your daughter. 



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