Women Who Identify as Feminists – and Their Daughters – Tend to Have More Positive Views of Their Body Image

A new study, led by Analisa Arroyo, an associate professor of communications studies in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences at the Univerity of Georgia, finds that mothers, who identify as feminists, as well as their daughters, felt more positively about their bodies and less shame about how their bodies look than those who don’t ascribe to feminist ideals. Additionally, the study showed that how mothers view and speak about their bodies can affect how their daughters view their own and vice versa.

The researchers focused on feminist embodiment, which they define as women rejecting societal norms and expectations about what they should look like while also feeling empowered and embracing their own bodies for their strengths and uniqueness.

The study showed that when daughters hear their mothers talk negatively about themselves, the daughters’ own body image takes a hit. Daughters who embraced their bodies and spoke positively about themselves, though, served as a positive influence for their mothers. Mothers with more body-positive daughters were more likely to have a better body image of themselves.

“I think one of the key takeaways of this study is the importance of focusing on moms as the agent of change,” Dr. Arroyo said. “One way we can break the intergenerational cycle of negative body image is by empowering mothers to accept themselves and love their bodies, and that’s what we can teach our daughters.”

The full study, “Feminist Embodiment, Body Talk, and Body Image Among Mothers and Daughters,” was published in the journal Body Image. It may be accessed here.

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