I don’t have a daughter — let alone a pre-teen daughter– yet. But if I did, you can bet I’d be reading Dara Chadwick’s You’d Be So Pretty If ….
In fact, I’ll make sure to keep my copy on hand for when the time comes, because I believe it will come in handy.
In a quick synopsis, it’s a book that explores body image and the critical relationship between mothers and daughters — particularly during the tricky pre-teen years — and how our behaviors and how we carry ourselves as women is passed on to our daughters.
A fast-moving book, it reads as part memoir and part how-to-guide.
Chadwick explores the challenges she faced undergoing her transformation as SHAPE magazine’s Weight Loss Diarist in 2007. Losing the weight wasn’t the most challenging part for her; there were emotional challenges that surpassed the actual physical loss.
But on top of that concern, she had a captive audience: a pre-teen daughter, who was naturally paying attention to her endeavor.
Naturally, she didn’t want to send the wrong message about why she was losing weight … or give the idea that she wasn’t good enough as she was and had to lose weight to be happy.
It’s something Chadwick brings up throughout the book: finding that delicate balance — whether it’s you (the mom) or your daughter struggling with her weight.
I’d say one of the most important things Chadwick expresses in this book is that we, as women, lay the blueprint for how our daughters view themselves.
She reminds us that we have the ability to empower them … or cut them down with a few mere words.
Having a mom (like my own) show us how to dress for our shape can be super-empowering and a real confidence boost.
But hearing “Are you really going out in that?” can be just as harmful as a disapproving look or hearing “I think you’d look better in a different size,” to a teenage girl.
Chadwick notes that even if we don’t love and adore every inch of ourselves, we need to adopt the “fake it til you make it” attitude for the sake of our daughters.
While it might sound obvious that we influence our daughters, think of all the times you’ve heard a grown woman bemoaning the size of her thighs or justifying why she can eat dessert tonight (just tonight, tomorrow she goes “back on a diet”) in front of her daughter. Perhaps you’ve even done it yourself, or heard someone else do it.
Our daughters hear things like this, and it shapes how they believe women should look or act or feel about themselves.
The bottom line: even if we don’t adore ourselves completely, self-flaggellance helps no one, least of all our daughters.
At the end of each chapter, Chadwick offers a one-page summary of bullets that I found super-helpful, on a wide range of topics about body image, self-esteem, eating disorders, healthy eating/exercising, etc.
This is the kind of book I strongly recommend new moms, moms of young girls, or even mothers-to-be read. Chadwick is right — once our heads are in the right place — once we can see ourselves for who we are and not just our image we share with the outside world — we’ll be better-equipped to handle our daughters’ challenges.
A special thanks to Lindsey, from Dara’s publishing company, for giving me my copy to review as well as the copy YogiClareBear won!
I also want to share a recent blog post Dara did, called “An Unlikely Body Image Hero”.
The lyrics of the song she shares by Jonny Diaz are truly beautiful, regardless of one’s faith. Take a look — I think it’s the perfect culmination to a review of Dara’s book, and I hope you agree.
I’ve asked Dara to do a Q&A here, and wanted to make this as interactive/participatory as possible. So please e-mail me your questions by Monday, June 29. You can email me here.
How about you? Have you read You’d Be So Pretty If … Have you ever been told those loaded words?