Mothers’ strategies to strengthen their daughters’ body image

Maya Maor, Julie Cwikel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Existing studies of the mother–daughter relationship have focused mainly on the transfer of negative body image messages or on risk of eating disorders, and have paid little attention to how this relationship might serve as a resource for building body-acceptance or resilience to disordered eating. On the basis of a secondary analysis of four qualitative samples, we examined how mothers and their now-adult daughters reflect on the ways in which the mothers tried to promote positive body image and resilience to body dissatisfaction in their daughters. Using a content analysis, we have identified five strategies: (a) filtering – being cautious and sensitive in communicating about body image issues, (b) transmitting awareness of the dangers of eating disorders, (c) positive reinforcement – providing affirmations in regard to daughters’ bodies; (d) discussion – providing tools for criticism of the dominant body-related social discourse; and (e) positivity – shifting the focus from food, body-size and weight loss to making healthy choices and taking pleasure in food. Identification of these strategies emphasizes the many potential avenues for growth and development inherent in mother–daughter relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-29
Number of pages19
JournalFeminism and Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • body image
  • eating disorders
  • embodiment/bodily experiences
  • gender
  • mothers/mothering
  • parent–child
  • relationships
  • resilience


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