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You have to say I'm pretty, you're my mother: How to Help Your Daughter Learn to Love Her Body and Herself    by Stephanie Pierson & Phyllis Cohen order for
You have to say I'm pretty, you're my mother
by Stephanie Pierson
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2003 (2003)

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* *   Reviewed by Sally Selvadurai

One of the most important lessons we are given in this book comes at the beginning - 'By not saying no to everything, by not overreacting, by being the grown-up in the relationship, you'll be able to help your daughter get through this experience.' Our daughters are indeed a challenge as they enter their womanhood and try to deal with their changing bodies, but this is not only true for daughters and we should remember that our sons go through many of the same image problems that our daughters do; we do not put this all down to hormonal, societal and peer pressure, although it is there for them too.

This book goes a long way to document what to expect as our daughters mature, although it is often a little overblown. Yes, many mothers do have their own problems coming to terms with their own body changes, perhaps more so than ever before. This is not just due to fashion and advertising, but also due to the fact that many of today's mothers put off child bearing until later in life, so they are experiencing menopausal symptoms as their teenagers are reaching puberty - quite a volatile mix!

Thus, it may be true that ultimately, how your daughter feels about her body depends on how you feel about your own, but, come on, ladies, you've put another nail in the coffin, another reason to put the blame on mothers! However, I did appreciate that you brought the father's role into the book, although in a minor way, and, again, you did this rather backhandedly, telling us mothers that we can look at how you might be making things harder for both of them (father and daughter).

Unfortunately, this book talks as though all teenage girls have to dislike healthy foods, which is just not the case. Yes, they all like junk food, snack food and sugary beverages, but there are also those who are athletic and know that they need a balanced diet, and enjoy eating a great variety of foods. Not all girls talk to each other a lot about their war with food, about the fat grams in a peanut butter cracker or the calories in a muffin. Some take pride in their abilities in the kitchen and discuss with their mothers the joy and creativity of cooking.

Perhaps I am being a little critical here, and I certainly think the book makes many valid points (although, like teenagers, not all mothers have an obsession with their weight) and gives useful information for those mothers who feel their teenage daughters are at risk of developing some sort of eating or personality disorder. Just don't put so much of the blame on the mother!

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