You Gotta Do the Work, Mama

How do we help our young women and girls to grow up without body shame?

Hey, loves! I’m Nicole C. Ayers. Welcome to the Love Notes to My Body Community. We’re going to have some chat time today.

Every time I talk to folks about making peace with their bodies, somebody asks me: “How do we help our young women grow up without body shame? And I love this question because my own backstory is that I have two daughters, and I did not want them to hate their bodies the way that I hated mine.

That’s what catalyzed my own personal journey to make peace with my body. I determined that they might have their own struggles with their body, but it was not going to be because I was showing them how.

So when someone asks me, “How do we protect our daughters, our nieces, our students, our neighbors from growing up with a lot of body shame?” my number one answer is that we model for them how to make peace with their bodies. [00:01:00] You got to do the work, mama.

We can’t save them from body shame. We can’t wrap them in this bubble because they are living in this world that sends so much toxic messaging to them. But what we can do is offer them some alternative paths.

You know, the world might be telling you that your worth is based around how you look. And also I’m showing you that your body is worthy of compassion. I’m showing you that your body is worthy just because it’s your body. Right? That’s the power that we have.

Every day we get to choose to create this legacy of body acceptance or body shame.

And it’s up to us which one we choose. And the beauty is every day we get to choose. So let’s say we have a screw- up day and we’re having a really body- shaming sort of day. We get to try it again. And that’s something really powerful that you can offer your young women because you can’t save them. [00:02:00] Right?

You can only offer them alternatives and hope that they’re listening to you. We know that if we say what’s most important is what’s on our inside, that our worth can’t be measured on a scale or in a photograph, that if we aren’t living those principles, then they think we’re hypocrites, and our adolescents don’t need any ammunition to think that we don’t know what we’re talking about. Right?

So we just have to keep inviting them into our practice. What are you doing that they could join you in? Could they join you in writing a love note to their body’s part? Could they join you in a movement practice, or in a gratitude practice, or whatever healing modalities you use to make peace with your body?

Now, you might invite them and they might say no, and that’s perfectly fine, but they see you doing the work to be at peace with your body. That is powerful, [00:03:00] and they will remember it and they will carry that with them.

I also say, choose age-appropriate honesty and vulnerability when you can. If you’re having a tough day, let’s say that someone posted a photograph of you on social media and you hate the way you look in that photograph, offer yourself compassion to hate that photograph, to hate the way you look in it, to hate the way you feel about your body because of how you look in it.

And then also, what are your practices? How do you reframe that? You remind yourself that a photograph is one microscopic moment of your life and is absolutely not a determiner of your worth. Or of who you are as a person. And that’s not even what you who look like most of the time, right? It was just a snapshot.

You can invite your child or your loved one into that conversation and say, “I really hated this photo. Here’s how it made me feel. [00:04:00] And here is how I worked through those feelings.”

That’s powerful. That is an action they can take with them because they’re going to have photos posted that they don’t like.

So how do we protect our young people from body shame? How do we help them grow up without it? Well, we can’t fully protect them, but we can be a discerning voice that tells them there’s a different path to take. As long as we are doing our own work.

That’s all for today. Take good care.