4 Ways To Give Your Daughter A Complex About Her Looks

Disclaimer: My daughter is only 3 years old. I have no idea how she’ll turn out and if she’ll end up with a “complex” or not. These are just things I’ve seen from dealing with women of all ages and their struggles with their image over the past 10 years. Does this mean that if you do any of the things listed below, that your daughter will have issues? Not at all. But I’m here to tell you that what you learn and see (by example) as a young child DOES IMPACT how you view health as an adult!  I’ve spent many hours REVERSING the habits and thoughts that have been deeply ingrained in women since a young age.

And yes, you as a mom have the biggest impact and influence on your daughter! What an awesome responsibility!

4 Ways To Give Your Daughter A Complex About Her Looks : peak313.com
My daughter, Lila and I at her one year pictures!



Ways To Give Your Daughter A Complex About Her Looks:

1.) Live in extremes.

Don’t eat carbs for 2 months, then binge on them the next. Exercise every day for 3 weeks, then stop completely for 2 weeks. Lose 50 pounds in 6 months. Gain it back in 3. Forget moderation on your favorite foods. Show her instability and lack of discipline at it’s best.

2.) Talk about how much you dislike your body.

Talk about the fat around your belly. The wrinkles around your eyes. The stretch marks on your thighs. Obsess over it and make sure she’s around to hear it.

3.) Demonstrate how beauty is only skin deep.

Never talk about how your heart, soul and spirit needs to be strengthened and refreshed. When upset about something in your life, turn to food or exercise first, rather than to God. Let her see you look in the mirror more than you look to God.

4.) Don’t take compliments from anyone, especially your husband.

Let her think that you aren’t worthy of a compliment because you aren’t “there yet”. Let her see that even though your husband may see you as the apple of his eye, you don’t feel that you are worthy to be that.


This doesn’t mean that your daughter (and sons!) shouldn’t see a mom who takes care of her body and is stewarding it well. It also doesn’t mean that a slip-up in word or deed will ruin her for life! I actually want to be a good example of that for her because I don’t want her to take after what the world claims is healthy! It’s a fine balance and there may be times that we are more out of whack than other times.

Mother’s Day, 2012

Understanding that we will never be perfect and trusting that God will fill in the gaps for us... are there areas that you could improve in by being this example for your precious daughter?

What things have you found instilled into your thinking as a young child that has carried over to your mentality about health and body image as an adult? How does your example in healthy living affect your sons? Please share below!


  1. says

    Clare, I WISH I had grown up in an environment where healthy habits were taught and appreciated! Your daughter is very fortunate in that :) There are definitely extremes. I grew up in the extreme unhealthy…no physical activity, and a very unhealthy relationship with and dependence upon foods (especially junk foods). I know there is also an opposite extreme where food is treated as the enemy, but I’m nearly 30 years old and trying to break that many years of habits and learning is so much more difficult than if things had been different to begin with.

    God bless you and your daughter!

    • Kelly J. says

      Joyce Meyer talks a lot abut habits. One thing she says is focus on making good habits and not on breaking bad habits.

  2. Leslie says

    I was not taught that fitness and health were important. I was told not to worry about what I ate by my mom. She said I didn’t need to worry because I would always be skinny. I was taught that I didn’t need to worry about education either, just be pretty and look good then you’ll get a rich man. Well I’m 70 lbs over weight married to the love of my life construction worker and my 2 girls will be healthy and active and encouraged to follow the Lord into whatever He has for them. And yes I’m working on my weight. I feel like every day I come across something I need to undo from my past.

  3. says

    I love this post Clare! As a mommy of three girls (one who’s married and expecting her first baby) I know how hard it is to raise our girls with good healthy self images that are dependent on Christ. Example, is key! Words we speak to them are powerful and prayer is essential!! Thank you for encouraging other moms in this area; we can all use this reminder from time to time!
    Love from KS!
    Mrs. Joseph Wood

  4. Drina says

    Clare…what great encouragement for me…a mama of 2 beautiful girls and 3 handsome lil men. I really needed this lil wake up call because its true if i don’t teach my girls their value by example they’ll just soak up what the world has to say about them. I need to show my boys as they search for a future wife, how a princess of the MOST HIGH holds herself!

    Love ya girl!


  5. says

    Great post! I can definitely see how all of those could affect a daughter later in life since I have lived through a couple of them. But luckily, I’ve discovered my own (better) relationship with food and fitness, so I don’t have that bad of a complex.

    Something you could add to the list is for when your daughter is a pre-teen/teenager: don’t point out her physical flaws. My dad pointed out every zit I had, every pound I gained, complained when I dyed my hair red instead of blonde, and complained about the way I dressed. He still does it even though I’m an adult now. It can be rather damaging to a girl, especially when she is a pre-teen, and definitely carries over into adulthood.

    I mean, I could point out his beer gut and his receding hairline, but I don’t because I know it would give him a complex and that would just be mean, right?

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Donna says

      My grandfather was the same way. Every time I came over to his house, he would make me show him my knees, and then tell me not to let them get knobby like my mothers’. Um, how does one keep her knees from becoming anything? I never figured it out.

  6. says

    My daughter is 22, and I have spent her entire life building her up, trying to relay to her where true beauty comes from, and telling her she is beautiful. Having grown up with a terrible view of myself, not being encouraged much by my family, and dealing with an eating disorder, I wanted the opposite for her. Unfortunately, I carried a lot of baggage along with me over the years as I have had to sort through some things. that has been a process. So, I did put myself down, and had a hard time accepting compliments. I have always exercised and had to be careful with what I eat… but not to extremes. NOw that my daughter is grown, she has been awakened to a culture that is obsessed with physical beauty, and a self awareness that comes with being a sinner. So, I think that the combination of my baggage and our sinful world has brought her to a place where she has a poor image of herself. I grieve that she is in this battle. I wish I had done better. I wish she didn’t have to listen to our culture. So now, all I can do is encourage her to grow in her walk with God, and to pray that God would give her a true view of herself. And since I have battled this my whole life, we are now working on this together! We keep each other accountable. So, even if a mom does see where she has failed in this, there is still hope that , with God’s help, it can be corrected! In your life and in your daughter’s life! I am so thankful!

    • says

      Yes, Gina! I love this. God fills in the gaps for us! We will not be perfect and I am thankful that my children do not have to rely upon me for success, self-esteem and their worth!! Thank you for sharing!

    • Barbie says

      Thank you for your honesty Gina. I am a Mother struggling with these issues myself. My daughter is only 11, and i fear I have already failed her in so many ways, but with God’s help, I know I can turn it around.

  7. says

    My mom and sister are both slim and shorter than me. This alone made me feel big growing up (I wasn’t), but one day, while reflecting on why I felt so big as a teenager when I was actually pretty small, it occurred to me how often my mom criticized herself–talked about her belly, sneered at desserts, etc… I then vowed never to say bad things about my looks or my body–not just in front of my kids, but out loud at all. It helps me accept myself and helps them the same way.

  8. Lana Mersman says

    Thank you so much for this post. It really brought to mind how often I say to my husband, “I don’t know how you feel that way about me” or “I can’t see the same thing you do” comments to that effect when he complements how I look, which is several times a day. I should be saying thank you and appreciating his kind words. I also didn’t grow up in a very supportive environment when it came to how I look. My Mom would say things like I should watch what I ate because being obese ran in the family. I know this has had a huge impact on my insecurities that I have today as an adult.

  9. says

    I love this post! It always makes me so sad to hear moms talking about how much they hate their bodies in front of their daughters. I’ve got two little girls and I am very careful not to say any of the typical “I feel fat, today” “I need to lose 10 pounds” etc., and I’m also careful not to think that way. Even avoiding saying certain things might not keep the girls from catching a hidden attitude. :-)

    I’d add modesty to the list. When a girl grows up watching her mom flaunt herself, it can be just as damaging, if not more so, than a mom who is always talking down about herself.

    Thanks for the great post!

  10. Julie says

    The one thing I remember growing up that I pass onto girls, including my own, was when my mom said “when you complain about the way you look, you insult God because He is the one who created your masterpiece” When I first said that to my daughter she was upset that she hurt God’s feelings and she remembers that and tells her friends when they complain. Thank you for this post, a great reminder!

  11. Sarah Knox says

    Ummm, ok just shoot me in the foot now!!! I have three young daughters, ages 7-10. I do believe that I have done all of these don’t do’s. Really makes me think about what I am truly teaching my girls. Thank you for this!

  12. Jessica says

    I’m so glad that I saw this post! I am a divorced mom, and now remarried into a (very) mixed family. I have 2 daughters with my ex husband, 2 daughters with my husband, and I have a step daughter and step son. Giving my daughters a positive, confident image of themselves and seeing positive and healthy relationships has always been a goal of mine, and my ex’s. we had a very amicable divorce and have developed into a well-oiled parenting team of 3 now that I am remarried. My oldest daughters are 5 & 6 and so far I am very happy with the lessons they have picked up on. My own mother had a negative outlook on herself, and while a hardworking woman and caring mother, did not teach me much about self respect. She told me once that she was very proud of the woman I had become despite having a mother like her. I think she was a fantastic mother, and luckily I was stubborn enough and had plenty of strong women in my life to help me realize lack of self-respect shouldn’t be the norm. I recently became concerned regarding my step daughter’s self view, however. She is only 4 but some of the conversations we have break my heart. The worst for me was when she told me that her mother loves her brother more than her. She told me one day that her mother told her she wouldn’t be pretty unless she was wearing perfume (which she and her brother are always covered in when they come to our house). I have been trying to counteract the negativity without telling her exactly what I think of her mother for telling her that. It frustrates me that her mother isn’t stopping to consider what type of ideas she’s planting in this little girls head. I have been her step mother for almost 2 years now, and am selfishly hoping that she will learn more from her father and I than the materialistic and insecure things her mother is teaching her :(

  13. Grace says

    I tell my five year old that God made her beautiful inside and out. I encourage exercise and healthy eating. My mother was extremely negative growing up and It was only recently that I started really liking myself and my body. I am very careful what I say and I what I do in front of my children in regards to many things, because they are impacted greatly by their mother’s actions and words.

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