What If That Was My Daughter? A Useful Self-Talk Reframe

article about daughter- image of profile of toddler girl with black background

“Would you want to see your daughter cutting?” I froze. While I was currently a childless high schooler, I had dreamt of adopting a daughter for years. With each young girl I mentored, I found a greater desire to pour myself into these blossoming hearts. 

Yet as I sat in the living room with my mentor after another self-harm incident, she challenged me to grapple with this through a different view. I could damage my own body without qualms, but my future daughter’s? She deserved more than that.

Years later I force myself to sit with that conversation. Instead of cutting, though, I now see this question through the lens of my eating disorder. 

What if it was my daughter?

What if that was my daughter screaming at her stomach to stop being hungry? Punching walls after eating one bite “too many”? Demanding that extra exercise from her body at 6 am? Obsessing in the middle of the night how to restrict lunch the following day? Calling herself fat and stupid when she has an unplanned snack with friends? 

The very idea causes my soul to cringe and cry. Oh, the empathy streaming as I consider her hurting heart! 

I love you, I want to whisper into her ear.

Your body deserves food. Rest is healthy. Your identity is not founded in what you do.

I would also tell her: Food is a wonderful way to connect with friends. Cherish those moments! You are more than a body. You are not the lies your brain tries to sell you. 

As I sit with this recognition today, I challenge you to wrestle with that question: What if that was your daughter? Niece? Sister? Best friend? What if they were the ones restricting? Purging? Binging? Overexercising? 

What would you say to them?

Now, can you – can I – say this to ourselves?

We deserve more than the lies that have infested our minds.

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