by Dara Chadwick
As I sat in church one Sunday, listening to the pastor preach about the value of sharing stories within our families, I was struck by something he said: “We’re all just one generation away from being forgotten.”
Well, that puts life into perspective, doesn’t it?
What he meant was that if we don’t share stories of our ancestors with our children, our ancestors will soon be forgotten. I get that; after all, my son — who was just five when my mother died — remembers her vaguely as the grandma who always had gum in her purse. If I want him to know her, as I did, it’s up to me to keep her alive in his memory by telling him who she was, what she meant to me and most importantly, how much she loved him.
As I listened that day, though, I couldn’t help thinking about the flip side of the “one generation away from being forgotten” comment. When it comes to mothers, daughters and the body image legacy, that might turn out to be a good thing.
Many women can recall hurtful things said to them by their moms, or comments their moms made about themselves that affected how the women came to see their own bodies over time. But recalling is one thing — passing on to the next generation is something entirely different.
The pastor’s words were a great reminder to me that I can take all the good qualities my mom passed on to me — like a sense of humor, compassion for others and a willingness to pitch in and help — and try to instill them in my own kids. As for the not-so-good qualities, like a tendency to be self-critical and to be disappointed in myself when I don’t reach the high standards I’ve set? Well, I can work to change that legacy, simply by being conscious of it. I can change the body image story I tell myself — and the one I choose to tell my daughter.
I can choose to let negative body image and its accompanying demand for perfection be “forgotten.”
What about you? Are you happy to pass along your body image legacy or are you consciously choosing to create a new one for your daughter?
Dara Chadwick is the author of “You’d Be So Pretty If…: Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies – Even When We Don’t Love Our Own. She has been interviewed on NBC’s TODAY Show , as well as on a variety of radio and television programs. A former Weight-Loss Diary columnist for Shape magazine, Dara has written about health, wellness and parenting for magazines such as Woman’s Day, Family Circle, Better Homes & Gardens, VIV, For Me, Shape, Parenting and Working Mother. Her work has also appeared online at sites such as The Daily Beast and Psychology Today You can learn more about her at DaraChadwick.com.
*The opinions stated aren’t necessarily those of MommaSaid or its principals. Seek professional advice before beginning any health program.