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The body image lesson one mom is teaching her daughter

The author of "Love Warrior" and founder of Momastery shares what she tells her daughters about body image, and how they respond.
/ Source: TODAY Contributor

Glennon Doyle Melton has candidly shared about her struggles with body image and eating disorders both in her book "Carry On, Warrior," and on her blog, Momastery. But as the mother of two girls, the Florida author and speaker says she's had a second chance to heal old wounds as she guides her daughters through their questions and observations about body image.

"With the girls, its funny when we say, 'Where are they getting this from? They're so young — where are they getting this?' The answer is — they're getting it from everywhere," Doyle Melton told TODAY Parents. "The message to women and little girls over and over again is, 'Be skinny. Be small. Be skinny. Be small.' They see commercials. They see billboards. They see magazines. They see all of this — this is where they're getting it. And, it becomes ingrained in them just like it's ingrained in us."

Doyle Melton says when it comes to her own daughters, she's decided to stop pretending the outside voices are not there, and to start helping her girls examine the messages they receive and realize that the demands placed upon women by society are lies.

In a post to her blog and social media accounts, the author shared an experience she recently had with her daughter, Tish, 10.

"We talked about all the messages girls get about staying small and quiet and competitive and how that’s all horseshit meant to keep girls weak and separate from each other, so we can’t join forces and lead. We talked about how hard and wonderful it is to have a body, and we talked about what, exactly, bodies are for," Doyle Melton wrote in the post. "I did my best. The truth is — I’m still learning what it means to be a woman and how to live comfortably inside my body. Ten to forty has gone by pretty fast."

After having several open and honest discussions with her mother, Tish created a petition, demanding that all women be treated equally, regardless of their appearance or body type.

"I think magazines should show girls who are strong, kind, brave, thoughtful, unique, and show women of all different types of hair and bodies," the petition reads.

Doyle Melton says she remembers hearing messages as a child that made her feel ashamed of her appearance and doubt her self worth.

"When I looked at all this shit, I thought there was something wrong with me. I looked at posters of women who looked nothing like me — who I would never look like — and I started to feel shame instead of anger," Doyle Melton said. "With Tish, instead of her saying, 'There's something wrong with me,' I want her to say, 'There's something wrong with that.' There's a huge shift between shame and anger and with girls, we need to talk about it more. We need to turn them towards it and say, 'Why do you think that makes you feel sad? Let's unpack this. What are they trying to tell you about women? What do they say it means to be a girl? Do you think that's true?'"

The author, whose new book "Love Warrior" will be released in August, says it's important for girls to realize that the reason images of unattainable beauty make them feel bad is because those images are lies, and lies make people feel bad.

"The cool thing is when you see your girls starting to get a little pissed because they start noticing the messages and the toxins in the air," said Doyle Melton. "I want my girls to be pissed because I think little girls in this society either get pissed or they get sick. I'm excited to see them turn it outward instead of inward."

"I want Tish — and all girls — to see themselves as activists instead of victims, and as shapers of culture instead of products of it."