Ladies, let's not self-body-shame in front of our daughters

Source: Pixabay
In Japan, it's commonespecially for womento put themselves down as a show of humility. But now that I'm a mom, it really makes me think twice if this is what I want my own daughter to go through.

I was with a group of lovely Japanese ladies, moms in their 30s and early 40s. We were discussing costumes for a dance, and boom, all the ladies went off on a tirade of self-disparaging remarks on their body parts: upper arms, shoulders, boobs...

Probably the only reason why there were no comments about tummies and butts were because the costumes in question had long, sweeping skirts that would hide those particular 'problem points'.

Self-put-downs are socially required

Such self-put-down-fests—whether it's about body or qualifications or personal qualities—are too commonly a women's way to establish relationships with other women. I'm sure sociologists or anthropologists have a way to describe it, but I think of it as a way we superficially signal to other women that we are harmless.

In Japanese society humility is highly valued, so this communal self-put-downs are an effective way to virtuously humble ourselves. It's important in a society, where those who stand out are struck down, to establish one's equality or even slight inferiority. The social rules then require that the others adamantly refute your lowly claims and share their own shortcomings, thus leveling the playing field.

(And let me note that this is pronounced in Japanese society, but I've seen this even among 'confident' American women.)

Now that I have a daughter...

I've never felt entirely sincere partaking of this ritual (it seems like we're still trying to 'best' each other...), and now that I'm older, I really can't be bothered to make the effort to go through the forms. Usually I'd just stand there smiling, occasionally making indistinct denying noises to refute the put-downs.

But witnessing this self body-shaming as a mom, and especially not having experienced it in a while, I was struck how this was something I definitely DO NOT want my daughter to be witness to.

Here were these beautiful, healthy ladies (who, while besides the point, are all slim and fit, with lovely skin and well-groomed hair—I always feel somewhat bedazzled in their presence!) and there they were, all putting themselves down about these minute points of their bodies.

Photo source: Pixabay

No no no no no...

Since puberty, I've harbored plenty of feelings of inferiority about my body and I could certainly join the chorus and go on and on about my face, hair, tummy, arms, etc. etc. etc.

But is that what I'd want to see my daughter doing, disparaging her body parts? My beautiful, perfect-in-all-her-imperfections daughter?

No. A thousand times no.

I want my daughter to be comfortable in her own skin, to respect her body, and to rejoice in its capabilities.

Especially as mothers, we know firsthand the miracles our bodies are capable of: growing another human being, providing nourishment for them, carrying them (and a whole LOT of their gear!) and comforting them in our strong arms.

So please, ladies, STOP.

Don't trash talk yourselves. Speak of yourself with the same respect that you want your children to speak of themselves and others, regardless of whether they are girls or boys. We are after all—no pressure!—their first and best models.

(And now if only I could take my own advice and be a better model about healthy living and regularly exercising!! (^o^;)


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