I wasn’t always a “Daddy’s girl.” We had our fair share of “I hate you” moments (that would be my side of the conversation, not his) and, of course, hundreds of times when I begged him to walk at least two miles behind me or drop me off down the street. But the truth is, even in those teenage moments, my dad’s opinion ranked way up there with the opinions of my friends and the boy I was sure I would love forever …forever with him turned out to be about two weeks long. “Forever” with my dad is still going strong.
I’m not unlike most, if not all girls, according to researchers who are studying the relationship between fathers and daughters. According to the theories of psychologists Donna Henderson-King and Kelly D. Brooks, women internalize their father’s opinions as an “accurate indicator of the importance of appearance” as it’s perceived by romantic partners and employers.
When questioned about how much importance their mother placed on physical appearance, weight, fashion, dieting - all things associated with “looks” – as opposed to the importance placed on those things by their father, most women were surprised to find that they remembered their father’s opinion more than their mother’s. Even when Mom pushed one way or the other it was the passing comments made by Dad that really stuck and seemed to remain at the core of who they are.
“My mom was a college cheerleader and a semi-professional model until I was in college. Her career and her self-worth depended on her appearance. She never said I was fat or skinny, but her fear of not looking perfect spilled out into how my sister and I looked. She always did this “inspection” of us before we went out of the house, even to play. She was afraid we’d have a hard time in life if we didn’t always look our best.
“I remember changing clothes eight times before a choral concert one night because I didn’t want my mom to be disappointed. But what I really remember, what really affected me, was my dad looking at me when I came down the stairs and smiling as he said I was perfect. He always made a point to look at us and either wink or smile or comment positively about our appearance.”
“My mom used to always compliment us. She gushed, as a matter of fact. My dad made a comment to my mom when I was 15 about how I might need to have my nose done some day. He didn’t know I heard him. I never told him that I had. I also never looked at myself the same again. I did have a nose job when I was 24 and my first thought as I was coming out of the anesthesia was ‘I wonder how Dad will like me now.’
The John Mayer lyric, “fathers be good to your daughters” is so true. Our self-image comes from the most unexpected places. You never know who you’re affecting or for how long your comments with shape another’s life. It would serve us all well to ‘be good to each other.’
|A Trip to the Mirror – A Girl Takes a Look|
A teacher once gave me a very strange assignment. It changed my life. My parents had just announced their divorce to be final and I had made some very wrong friendships – I was a typical teenage story. This teacher really cared about us as people, and she invited me to eat lunch with her one day.
|Expert Opinions – Who Decides you Look Good? (Women)|
Talk shows. Magazines. Advertisements. Opinions about what looks good and whether or not you fit the bill are everywhere from notes passed in 7th grade math class to the way your husband looks at you on your wedding day. So who gets to decide? We asked seven women age 13 – 80 who they consider