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Body Image: Positive Role Modeling

positive body image for girls

Art by Maya Burman

All humans learn by imitation.

Girls learn how to be a girl and how to be a women by observing and imitating the women in their lives.

Your own body image and your beliefs about your body have a strong influence on how the girls in your life feel about their bodies.

If you have poor body image, you can still convey positivity by being intentional about your speech and actions, and also doing your best to love all the parts of your body.

I struggle with body shame myself, but I did not pass it onto my daughter.  According to her! I believe this is because I worked consciously, on a daily basis, to feel great about my body and to speak only in positive ways about my body, her body, and all bodies.

Here are some tips. Which of these sound good to you? What would you add?


  • Asking "Do I look fat in this?"
  • Weighing yourself daily.
  • Speaking about "good food" and "bad food"
  • Talking about your muffin top, or your flabby or saggy anything
  • Commenting on the weight gain or loss of others.
  • Magazines and media with body shaming messages.
  • Frequent commentary about her appearance


  • Carry yourself with pride whether walking, standing, sitting, dancing...
  • Exercise and move your body in ways that delight you
  • Eat fabulous healthy food
  • Find a daily body-loving meditation, ritual or activity
  • Affirm that people come in all sizes and shapes

These Body Image practices are simple but truly powerful.

Pick one and try it for a week or two. Notice how your daughter responds. Notice how YOU feel.

Follow your body's wisdom as you continue to build your body positive role modeling. Your body knows. At some level, she is working to support your to break the cycle of generational body shame and to raise a daughter who is in love with her entire body.


What's worked well for you?  What pitfalls would you advise others to avoid?  Where are you struggling with body image issues?

Please share as a comment below. 

Thank you!  Together we rise!

Positive Body Image

Waiting by Tilly Willis

Mentoring Girls Certificate Training

JOYW's Mentoring Girls Certificate Training  is open for enrollment!

You'll enjoy new content, new resources and new collaborative opportunities in addition to an extensive interactive resource platform offering post-graduate support beginning in 2017.  Leadership roles are opening up.  

Learn more here.

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Teach girls that desire – that pleasure – is healthy and good


Art by Chie Yoshii

Pleasure is taboo in our society today.  It is associated with laziness, self-indulgence, selfishness, and being "un-spiritual".

By teaching ourselves to marginalize or ignore pleasure, we find ourselves disconnected from our bodies, from joy, and from our inner guidance system which is designed to lead us toward things that feel good and that we feel good about.

Today I'd like to focus on the most taboo aspect of pleasure and that is sexual pleasure.  We can empowering sexual well-being and health in children and youth by teaching and modeling that pleasure is a good thing.

What are the some of the messages girls hear about sexuality?

pleasure is good

Art by Alima Newton

· Wait. You’re too young. You’re not married. It’s wrong. It can ruin your life.

· You’re a slut if you do, a prude if you don’t.

· Boys want only one thing. Boys just want to use you.

· If you want to be liked (be cool, etc), you need to service your boyfriend

· Don’t be sexy.

· Do be sexy.

What’s the result?

· Confusion - focused on trying to please others (impossible) as compared to tuning into one’s one wants and needs

· Shame – feeling inferior, embarrassed, even humiliated

· Lack of sexual agency – the ability to choose who, when, and how someone gets close to her

· Lack of assertiveness – to express their desires or their limits

· Lack of self-confidence and self-esteem

What do girls need from parents, mentors and teachers?

comprehensive sex education

Art by Janice Sylvia Brock

· Comprehensive sex education explaining the changes of puberty for boys and girls, menstruation, female reproductive anatomy, sexuality, masturbation, pregnancy, birth, birth control and STD prevention

· Positive messages about self-pleasuring from aged zero forward. That it is normal, healthy and good.

· Acknowledge of body sovereignty

· Encouragement to be assertive – to express their feelings, needs, wants and opinions

· Encouragement to set limits

· Encouragement to tune into her intuition, her inner guidance system, her body wisdom and to her own pleasure

It’s time to empower adolescent and pre-adolescent girls to  pay attention to and honor pleasure.    

Pleasure is one part of a healthy and functional inner guidance system which also includes instincts, intuition, and emotions - and is informed by our beliefs and values.  When we teach and model to our young people to tune into their inner guidance system, we empower them to make healthy choices that they feel good about.  We likewise empower them to notice and correct their mistakes which are after all an essential part of learning and growing.  

And so, if this has stimulated some ideas or pondering, please respond to these questions, or say whatever you'd enjoy sharing.

What's your relationship with pleasure?

What are the typical messages about pleasure that children in your community receive?

What "pleasure-positive" messages and activities would you enjoy sharing with the young people in your life?

Thank you!

pleasure is good

Art by Meaghan Ogilvie

Mentoring Girls Training

Get support for sex-positive parenting and mentoring in the Mentoring Girls Certificate Training or the Non-Certificate Mentoring Girls Training

Learn to teach girls to take charge of their physical, emotional, social and spiritual well-being - and all of these include sexual well-being.

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