I saw this Dove commercial and found myself thinking about what body image messages I may have internalized from my mother. In case you have not seen it, this is the commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pqknd1ohhT4
Truth is, I don’t remember my mom talking about her body much. This is not to say that she didn’t have insecurities. I just don’t recall her talking about them. I do remember, however, her commenting on how she loved her calves. It wasn’t like she walked around and said this a lot, but I can recall on several occasions when she would speak positively about them.
My mom played tennis as a child. When she would talk about her calves, she would also mention her involvement in sports. I, in turn, interpreted her conjunction to mean that the development of her calves were the result of her playing sports. Who knows if she meant it that way?
In high school I played sports. It was then when people would first begin to compliment my calves. All of those running and weight-lifting drills helped to bring them out (I guess). Admittedly, I have always loved my calves because they (are and) look strong like my mom’s. It’s funny how children pick up on the slightest things, both spoken and unspoken.
In thinking about it, my mom never made a big deal about wearing make-up. If she puts some on, it’s really light. This is probably why I have no problem being in public without make-up. I love my skin color and embrace my smartness. Yes, my mom loves her skin color and she’s pretty smart too. On the other hand, it did not take long for me to understand the importance of getting my hair straighten. I don’t know which came first, watching my mom get her hair straighten or sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen getting my hair pressed. Either way, I understood its messaging. Today, I do not put any hair straighteners on my hair. I actually prefer it in its natural state and have not worn it straighten in any style in years. This is not to say that I am opposed to it; I just have not. Again, I made this hair decision after my mom made hers.
These examples could be coincidental or they may illustrate that even in adulthood mothers are a powerful influence on body image messaging. I think mothers are more influential than the messages we receive from society and from our peers. I am not so sure if all mothers realize this, that it is a part of their legacy. Dove does and I appreciate its commercial. It made me think about myself and about the state of girls today. I wonder if they were asked, what their responses would be. I wonder if some mothers, based on their daughters answers, would try to rewrite the script.