National Eating Disorders Association
Blog

A Letter to Parents of Young Women

Natasha La Volpe

I know you love your daughter, and this may be hard to hear, but I’m concerned about how she feels about herself.

You’ve raised someone who is very strong and level-headed. You may think she engages in irresponsible activities, but going out on her own and exploring new experiences is normal for a young woman.

She doesn't mean to get herself into dangerous situations, and when it does happen, getting punished or yelled at will not work.

She needs to be heard.

Your daughter has the belief that she is not good enough. She is not good enough unless she is thin. She will not be desired unless her body is fit and perfect. So maybe she felt the need to skip dinner. 

Then she went out drinking on that empty stomach. Her tolerance is lowered, but she doesn't mind because she feels pretty.

Does your beautiful baby only believe she is wanted because of her figure? Does she not have enough confidence in her intellect or wit? Did someone allow her to believe self-worth is defined by her size?

These beliefs will kill your daughter. They continually put her in dangerous situations (like the one outlined above). But they are also draining her of the ability to enjoy her life.

Please do not let her life boil down to one goal: letting others think she is perfect and happy. What kind of empty existence will that be?

There is no use placing blame on how we got here. We don't always know where these thoughts come from, but you have a job now, to help reverse her way of thinking.

Bring life back into your daughter's world, bring her true happiness which derives from loving every inch of herself.

Unconditional love, which your daughter is completely deserving of, means that she is loved always and regardless of what may come.

Every time you see her, you should say: “You are beautiful.” She may roll her eyes. She needs to hear it.

Help her learn to say, “I am beautiful now, I was beautiful then, and I will be beautiful later.” Do not let anyone let her feel less than, even if she has changed. And never allow your daughter to put herself down. Do not let her to think she needs to lose weight. No one needs to.

Some parents believe they need to teach “healthy eating” to their children. Be careful. Eating disorders are running rampant and hiding within many “health/fitness” fads.

Your daughter is not a computer. You cannot program her to eat the foods that you (or Dr. Oz) considers healthy. She is human, she is vulnerable, she is imperfect. If there is any weight talk, it needs to be done in front of a professional: a specialist in eating disorders or a nutritionist. 

It is not shameful to seek out help. Young girls today have so much pressure on them to be thin, fit, and perfect. Do not be part of the problem. Do not be blind. End the stigma. Your baby is beautiful, and the ones who love her will see it regardless of size. Schools are not instilling this, social media is not instilling this; you need to instill it.

And for all those daughters who do not have a parent who will be receptive to this letter, or in case your parent was not around to say it:

I am so proud of you.

You are so strong for enduring the things you have gone through.

Society is very hard on women and YOU are so brave.

Do not fear being yourself. Do not fear standing out.

There is only one you. And you are on this Earth because the world needed your spirit, mind and heart (not your body).

Do not change for anyone.

If you think you need to change your appearance, please work on your thoughts instead. Someone planted the notion in your head that you are not good enough the way you are. Remember, whatever perceived flaw this ignorant person pointed out, will be adored by somebody else who loves you.

You are deserving of everything you want in this world.

You are beautiful.

You are loved unconditionally.

You are loved when I seem angry with you. You are loved when you are sad. You are loved if your body changes. You are loved when you are being irrational, rude, or unpleasant. You are loved when you feel undeserving, guilty, or flawed. And yes, you are loved if you gain weight. Because it doesn’t matter how you look.

You are always deserving of love, no matter what you may feel about yourself.

You are loved.

Natasha La Volpe is a 25-year-old who suffered with an eating disorder for most of her adult life. Finally, three years ago, she began treatment, which started her on her road toward recovery. It is with an open heart that she tries to help as many people as she can.