What I’ll teach my daughters about body image and beauty

Last year I made a list of birthday wishes for my three girls, which continues to be one of my most highly read posts.  Today, I want to share with you, what I’ll be teaching my daughter’s about body image and beauty.

body image and beauty

There is nothing wrong with admiring physical beauty.

Beauty is in nature. Beauty is in art. Think paintings and flowers, modern architecture and historic ruins.

We are surrounded by beauty. We are pleased by aesthetics.

The same applies to the human form. We are genetically programmed to be drawn to good looks.

Please don’t feel guilty about that.

Revel in it.  Enjoy it.

However –

Despite what the media and western popular culture insist – there is not ONE feminine (or masculine) beauty ideal.

You will be told again and again, that thinness is equated with female beauty, and that physical appearance is one of your greatest assets.

Don’t believe it my darlings.  As you have already shown, you are far, far more, than your jean size.

Perspective is as varied and skewed as the individual observer.

Take Gummie Bears for instance – some people have a strong inkling for the red ones, while others prefer the yellow, or the green.

That’s just the way it is.

Have an opinion, but judge kindly.

It’s more than likely, that you will be inundated with socially constructed, homogenized images of what is currently considered beautiful.

I encourage you to be mindful of these messages and to ask yourself -‘What’s really going on here?

Doesn’t Taylor Swift have freckles?  (Why did they remove them?)

Look at all those young women on TV and compare them to the people we know and meet.

How many girls do you personally know that actually fit that ‘mould’?

Is that a fair representation of life as you know it?

Why is that?

Focus on feeling good, rather than looking good.

As you have already discovered, fashion is fun!  Getting dressed up and donning five different hair-bands makes you feel like a goddess!

If you want to over-accessorise and wear eye-popping outfits – I’m not going to battle you.

Express yourself creatively through fashion if you want to. Just don’t take it too seriously.

Focus on accepting all aspects of  your body and developing a feel-good attitude.

That’s why we eat healthy food. That’s why we encourage mindful eating.

There is a direct link between experiencing inner health and exuding beauty.

When you nourish your body with whole foods, notice how you have more energy.

When you learn to live IN your body as much as you do in your head, notice how grateful you feel just to be alive and breathing.

You’re more alert. You’re stronger. You get to experience all the shades and hues of life.

Feel good about yourself and your body image will instantly improve.

Understand that there will be many days where it appears that your body has betrayed you.

Times when, for no discernible reason, you will awake feeling self-conscious and a little bit gross.

I’m here to tell you that’s ok too. We all have days like that!

When this happens, be extra kind to yourself. Let yourself feel whatever it is that you need to feel.

Focus on ways to nurture yourself, rather than paying too much attention to negative self-talk.

Understand why you might feel like numbing out with food, or technology, or consumerism. Learn to decipher your true needs.

Be gentle with yourself and understand that it will pass.


Know that your Daddy and I will continue to tell you that you are beautiful, every day.  Because you are!

We will focus on the strength and suppleness of your limbs, as you practice splits and cart-wheels.

We will comment on your gorgeous smiles and the magical way that your eyes are visibly softened by love.

We will laugh and be challenged by the fearless curiosity of your minds and pray that you keep them as open as your heart.

Everyone has beauty if you look for it.

Kirri White Coaching

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  1. says

    Oh Kirri, this is beautiful. I often wondered how to ensure my girls have a positive self concept rather than focusing of the aesthetics of their body as a first priority. It’s so hard to do it. I want my girls to eat healthy but not go overboard and obsess about it, again where’s the line that’s the right way to teach that?

    What you say to your girls sounds perfect and it’s you who is the biggest role model to your girls. I love how you didn’t hide the fact that beauty is important because it is in life. I do think our society is a little overboard on the aesthetics side though so I like how you mentioned the jelly bean analogy and made beauty as subjective. I also love how you mentioned that what we see in magazines isn’t necessarily the whole person but an abstract form of them with all the touch ups.

    I read a blog post once that blew my mind. It referred to the way we address little girls. We 90% of the time address them by their looks firsts, making them feel like beauty and appearance is the most important aspect of themselves. It mentioned that we should change those remarks to, ‘what are you reading at the moment?’ and ‘How are you liking school?’ rather than always saying ‘don’t you look pretty today!”.

    • Kirri @ Kirri White Coaching says

      Thanks Penny. As far as healthy eating (or most things really), I lean toward modelling the habits I would like my girls to learn. We are eating a whole lot cleaner and greener these days and we still have treats(but they are healthy treats). I still let my girls eat whatever they want when they are at birthday parties or at other peoples homes, but we are pretty strict at our house and the girls have never once said they felt like they are missing out. They enjoy helping grow veges and learning about where food comes from etc.

      BTW – I’m pretty sure that I have read the blog post you mention. I have had to retrain myself a little by focusing on the skills my girls display rather than what they look like. Its easier now – when they were 2yrs old and proudly wearing their favourite dress – I would find myself cooing over the cuteness!

  2. says

    Just beautiful. It might also be worth noting that our bodies and ourselves and one and the same, we are our body, it is not an ‘other’ thing that we have to treat or think about separately but to love ourselves as a whole person, despite what shape or size we come in x

  3. says

    Oh, Kirri! What a loving mum you are. And in a world where looks, image and bodies are all so scrutinised, this post will be a beautiful reflection for your gorgeous daughters.
    I think I just started loving you even more! x

    • Kirri @ Kirri White Coaching says

      Thanks Gracie. I’m doing alright at this mummyhood gig 😉
      Love you too, muchly x

  4. says

    Beautiful post Kirri. I love the way you approached this and will definitely keep this in mind for my kids.
    Having body and confidence issues all my life, although getting better, this is something I am really conscious of as to not pass my warped body issues onto my daughter especially.
    The one thing I try to instill in all of my children is that our beauty comes from inside. From the inner light that shines from our within heart and illuminates us from the inside out.
    Love you work
    Megan xo

    • Kirri @ Kirri White Coaching says

      I agree Megan. Beauty most definitely shines from within.
      I like the way you expressed that in your comment. Thank you x

  5. says

    This is so beautiful! And touching. I loved every line. Just appreciate you for who you are and the rest will come. I am trying to let my daughter know that!

  6. says

    I was thinking about this exact subject today and writing about it. And voila! I will share this on my page in next few days. x

  7. says

    So beautifully written Kirri. I have a 2 year daughter that I know is taking all that I do and say in. I totally believe that leading by example is the best strategy so I will forever be striving to be a fit, strong, healthy and happy woman-all that I hope for her.

  8. Danielle says

    I’m so glad I read this today. My ten yr old daughter has recently been doubting herself due to what she considers undesirable characteristics that she feels she possesses. It’s been very hard for me not to become upset whilst talking to her about it because it just breaks my heart. It was so great to be able to show her what you had written as it is exactly what I have been telling her. She IS beautiful, but I have also reminded her that she is who she is, and that is an individual who is very special, not only on the outside but very importantly, on the inside. I have told her that, no two people are alike and we all have special qualities that make us who we are and that we should be grateful for those. Thanks for backing me up :-)

    • says

      You are so welcome Danielle! I’m so touched by your words and thankful that you found some solace here today.

      Please tell your daughter that there is no one in the world exactly like her and to be kind to herself because she is the best friend she will ever have xx

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