Analisa Arroyo, an associate professor in the department of communication studies in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, spoke with The Mirage to talk about feminism and body image.
“There’s a whole group of people who’ve never been taught to think positively about their bodies,” said Arroyo. “In fact, they’re ashamed of their bodies, whether it’s because of body size, gender identity, race ethnicity or something else. And their negative talk about their bodies is hurtful.”
Arroyo said that the mother-daughter relationship can open doors for breaking the intergenerational trend of body negativity in women. Arroyo was lead author in a study that surveyed 169 mother-daughter pairs, and asked about their power as women, whether they felt connected to their bodies and other measures of feminist values.
“I think one of the key takeaways of this study is the importance of focusing on moms as the agent of change,” said Arroyo. “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.”
Arroyo says that moms can be open and honest about their own body image struggles, and then set an example of how to work through those issues for their daughters.
“What we think is that the mother-daughter relationship is one of the few times that this kind of body talk is OK because they have a history of sharing and caring that might be different from two strangers who typically engage in body talk to fit in,” she said. “Mothers and daughters are very important for one another.”