When it comes to winning the war on body image and self-love, we often think of moms on the front line. But your dad is right there encouraging you and loving you just as you are.
When it comes to winning the body image wars, we often think of moms on the front line—which makes sense since moms often deal with the same self-love issues you face. But there is someone else who is often right there as well, encouraging you to do your best and loving you just the way you are: your dad.
These days, fathers—whether biological, adopted, by marriage, or those who take on the role of father figure—are more important than ever to their daughters. They have a powerful influence on their daughter's career, relationship, and life choices, according to research done by Linda Nielsen, Ph.D., a professor of educational and adolescent psychology at Wake Forest University and the author of Father-Daughter Relationships: Contemporary Research & Issues. One example? Women these days are three times more likely to follow their father's career path. And it doesn't stop with jobs; women who have an involved father figure are also less likely to have eating disorders, and they're more likely to do better in school, says Dr. Nielsen.
Men have a different perspective—and while we're not knocking Mom's advice, sometimes the most powerful encouragement, advice, or words to live by come from your dad. Yeah, sometimes men communicate differently, so their advice may come in an unconventional form, but it may also be exactly what you need to hear. To pay homage to dear old Dad, we asked eight women to share the advice they received that helped them learn to love their bodies, develop their talents, and just feel awesome about themselves.
See the beauty underneath everything else.
"As a teen I was experimenting with makeup and I still remember coming down the stairs and my dad's reaction. He looked surprised and said, 'You're beautiful no matter what, but why are you wearing all that paint? You're just like your mother—you don't need makeup to be beautiful.' Both of my parents instilled inner and outer confidence in me, but my dad is awesome at doing it in concrete ways."—Meghan S., Houston
Figure out your talents and find your calling in life.
"When I was 14, my dad was driving me home and asked if I had thought about what I wanted to do with my life when I grew up. I said I didn't know yet. Then he told me that he thought I'd be an excellent nurse based on my compassionate nature, sensitivity, and quick mind. His kind words helped me see myself that same way, and I decided that very day to follow that path. I've been a nurse for 26 years now—a job I absolutely love—and he is definitely the reason."—Amy I., Arvada, CO
Use something devastating to come back even stronger.
"My dad has always been my biggest supporter. Growing up he made me feel like I could do anything. He also taught me to follow my instincts and heart and stay true to my values. This lesson came in handy when I divorced my husband a year ago. I knew I was doing the right thing, but I was terrified to be on my own and a single mom. When I told my dad about the split, I was nervous, but he responded by saying he loves me, is always here for me, and knows I am strong enough to do this."—Tracy P., Lakeville, MN
Demand respect as an athlete and as a woman.
"My dad wasn't a big talker but he was always paying attention to what I was doing. In high school, he showed up to every single one of my volleyball games and sporting events, and if I ever fell short in something, instead of coddling me, he'd help me learn how to be better. We'd spend hours practicing my volleyball skills in the front yard. Plus, when he'd ask me to dance at weddings, he'd say, 'One day a guy is going to come along. Many of them will. The one who likes you the most will dance real slow and will pull you in close and will pay attention to you. If they move too fast, you move on."—Christie K., Shakopee, MN
Prioritize your own needs.
"On the weekends, we'd go to the airport where my dad had a plane—flying was his favorite hobby. I remember how he'd take me with him and I'd hang out, and we'd go flying. He was always so proud to have me along with him. I always felt welcome and wanted on his adventures, like a true co-pilot and companion. His example taught me to make sure I don't forget to put myself first sometimes and to create space in my life for my needs."—Sarah T., Minneapolis
Try your best and then be satisfied with it.
"My dad remains my inspiration even beyond his passing 10 years ago. He taught me to value and love myself because he valued and loved me no matter what. He taught me to try my best, but then to be okay with not being the best. He taught me to see my true potential and to never give up. I miss him terribly, but I am so grateful for his legacy of love."—Marianne F., Martinsburg, WV
Be proud of who you are and your successes.
"In my early 20s I went from small-town girl to a successful businesswoman, working internationally. My mom didn't support what I was doing. She actually started competing with me and criticized my work ethic. Her reaction made me think I should apologize for my success. I still wanted a relationship with my family and I worried I was doing something wrong. Finally one day my dad pulled me to the side and told me how proud he was and to never apologize—to my mom or anyone else—for the successes I created."—Theresa V., Reno, NV