The Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Paul Nyhan is the father to a two-year old daughter. And he is filled with fear about what this will bode for him as his daughter grows older: "In a few years this toddler will stand at the edge of the nation's body-image vortex, swirling with size 00 jeans, underfed celebrities glorified in gossip magazines, the latest 'America's Next Top Model' and an unrelenting marketing drumbeat that skinnier is better. How do I keep her from falling in?" Good question! As Nylan points out in his extremely sweet essay, it's hard to be a girl nowadays. Being skinny is becoming a bigger and bigger ideal in the media and the media is becoming a bigger and bigger all-pervasive presence in our day-to-day lives. So Nyhan talked to the "experts" — and guess what he learned? That if parents — moms and dads — simply talk to their daughters, some good can be done.
"Talk", of course, is the operative word here. Nyhan stresses the importance of not just tossing a young daughter a flippant, "You're beautiful just the way you are!" but actually asking her how she feels, and what makes her feel that way. But if you ask me, taking a vested interest in her life outside her weight is just as important.
When I was growing up, my dad never told me what I could and couldn't do, but he did let me know that he thought that, in his opinion, YM magazine portrayed women as stupid. (Not to mention trashy.) My dad's opinions meant something to me. I never read YM. When I was growing up, my dad talked to me non-stop about his love of the music of Diana Ross, Laura Nyro, Aretha Franklin, Joni Mitchell, and Carole King. My dad's opinions meant something to me. That was the music I listened (and still listen) to, and those were the women I thought were really cool. But most importantly, both of my parents didn't sit down and drill me about my "body image" — they were too busy asking me my opinions on what was going on in the news, what I was learning in school and nurturing everything from my interest in politics to my love of musicals. And guess what? I was too interested in life to be interested in what I weighed. Mr. Nyhan, buy your daughter a copy of "Tapestry" and once she's old enough to speak, sit her down in front of the evening news with you: She'll turn out okay, I promise.
Dads Can Do Plenty To Help Their Daughters With Image Issues [Seattle Post-Intelligencer]