I have written a couple posts about body shaming I experienced during my childhood. I could write a thousand more; many more recent.
There is a toxin in our culture that provides men both the freedom and permission to comment on women's bodies.
I, in no way, believe that young boys and men aren't ridiculed for their looks, as well. I doubt, however, that it is as rampant and acceptable as is the constant discussion (to put it nicely) about how women look.
So, when my two daughters were young - probably due to the sense of disempowerment I had felt - I vowed to afford them a strong sense of personal power in this arena.
Two quick stories - neither of which I suggest are "good parenting - but I want to share, nonetheless.
One daughter was at an elementary school skating party. I was a chaperone. She let me know that a 5th grade boy had snapped her bra while she was skating. I could tell this felt like a breach of her boundaries and made her uncomfortable. So, I walked out onto the floor of the skating rink and snuck up quietly behind the young man and whispered in his ear: "If you touch my daughter's body again, you will have to deal with me."
Can you picture this? Like I was a mob boss or something!!!
He looked terrified. Shocked that his actions had such swift consequences.
I do not think he ever snapped her bra again.
After that, I decided to be more proactive.
I told my other daughter that if any boy ever made a disparaging comment about her body she had my complete and total permission to make an equally disparaging public comment about his body.
In fact, I would go as far as to say I encouraged this by suggesting a phrase she could use.
We giggled quite a bit about this suggestion.
I hope you understand what I was attempting to do for my daughters, however crudely.
I knew I would never be able to stop the constant barrage of public comments they would receive about their bodies.
But I could prevent them from feeling powerless about it when it happened.
What else was a mother to do?
What else can mothers do now?
How do we offer our daughters protection from this kind of shameful garbage?
How do we provide them with a sense of empowerment about their unique and beautiful bodies?
How do we teach boys and men that it is never ok to offer their thoughts and critique about female bodies?
I welcome any constructive thoughts.