Words Matter: Your Self-Talk Affects Your Daughter

A quick scan of the magazine stand at your local bookstore or grocery checkout reveals that you’re two weeks to flatter abs, you can shrink your inner thighs, and you can fight flab and win! A Beach Body Shape Up will help you drop 10 lbs fast. No more cellulite or muffin top. You’ll be bikini body ready in no time!


You might roll your eyes at these headlines and continue with your day, but does it really end there? At home when you turn on the TV, you’re faced with more flawless faces, thin waists, and tight butts. Your Insta feed triggers diet despair, but you keep scrolling in this dopamine-driven ecosystem. Attention is currency and the rich are toned, glowing, and perfect. There’s a constant weight on your shoulders year-round because bikini bodies are sculpted in winter months and flaunted in summer months. You’re either bombarded with messages about attaining a bikini body or you’re surrounded by bikini bodies.


How do you survive in a world of unrealistic expectations, idealized bodies, and sexually suggestive imagery that leaves you feeling like you don’t measure up? How do you stand in your truth and be the role model you want to be for your daughter?


The first step is understanding the importance of language in your health journey. Words matter because we give meaning to words and these words shape our mindset and our sense of self. The meaning we give words is influenced by our environment such as the media we consume, the people we interact with, and the things we say to ourselves. Next time you see a headline or observe a conversation about body image, notice the words used and your emotional reaction to those words. What does the media define as ‘beautiful’ and ‘sexy’? Who is a ‘knockout’? More importantly, what do you define as ‘beautiful’ and ‘sexy’? Who do you consider a ‘knockout’?


The second step is gaining an awareness of the words you use regularly related to body image. Observe your speech patterns for a couple of days. Make note of the words you use to describe your body and others’ bodies. Write them down. Are there any recurring words? Do you describe your body less favorably than others’ bodies? When you look at your list of words, ask yourself where else you’ve heard each word. Did you hear this word when you were growing up? Who said it? What was the context?


The third step is reframing how you use words related to body image. This includes your spoken words and your thoughts. Your thoughts are often reflected in your actions subconsciously. How you view yourself has a profound effect on your daughter’s body image and self-esteem. Looking at your list from step 2, how can you use these words in an empowering way or replace them entirely with empowering words?


When you describe your body, remind yourself that your daughter is listening. What would you like her to hear?


Demi Dee is a certified Canadian fitness trainer and holistic health coach, and the Founder and CEO of The Knockout Room®. Demi is the creator of The Knockout Protocol: Raising Your Superhero Tween to Look and Feel Her Best, her signature health program for moms and their tween girls.