5 Tips for Dads Wanting to Have a Positive Impact on Their Daughter’s Body Image

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Being a parent is not for the faint of heart, and getting through puberty and the teen years with kids takes a special kind of mettle. Dads of daughters will find themselves entrenched in a battle against body image that they aren’t prepared for and really have no way of understanding before it hits them square between the eyes.

Boys, too, struggle with the changes that take place around puberty, but this article isn’t about them. It’s about handling girls who are suddenly unhappy with the way they look and don’t have a lot of support outside their home when it comes to self-acceptance and love.


Dr. Erika Doukas, a clinical psychologist specializing in parenting issues and treating eating disorders, has some advice if you’re not sure where to start.

“What’s important for fathers to understand is that they are the template, really, for their daughters in terms of the daughter’s future relationships with men. How they interact with their daughters will affect how they feel about themselves, and how they feel about themselves in relation to other men.”

She also puts her thoughts and advice into 5 (not easy, but simple) tips on how to guide your baby girl into a confident, happy young woman.

#5. When you talk to your daughter about the things that make her special, leave her looks out of it completely.


It’s hard to avoid telling our kiddos how adorable we think they are, but as they approach puberty, it’s important for them to know the reasons we love them run much deeper. Choose her intelligence, wit, kindness, compassion, warmth, or something along those lines instead.

#4. Avoid talking badly about your own body.


That kind of thing soaks in and can’t be wrung free in a day or two – or even with a lifetime of therapy.

#3. Talk about health as a family, not about weight.


Healthy diets and exercise are great, but you don’t want to discuss them in connection with weight loss or how we look. Likewise, try to avoid assigning moral values to foods – they’re not “good” or “bad;” even unhealthy foods have their place in our lives as long as we learn moderation.

Food is fuel, not calories that make us fat.

#2. Changes during puberty are normal.


All bodily changes should be discussed, and that might include weight gain. Help her focus on how she feels and choosing foods that help her feel her best self instead of gauging happiness and fitness based on a number on a scale.

#1. Remind them what they see on screens isn’t real.


The women on Instagram, in the movies, and in advertisements are literally photoshopped and often project an unhealthy body type or lifestyle. Help them seek out healthy, body-positive role models – they’re out there for every body type.

Start with love and keep going.

Good luck out there.