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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

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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 [Hardcover]

Stephanie Pierson , Phyllis Cohen
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 1, 2003
Award-winning journalist Stephanie Pierson has successfully helped her teenage daughter recover from an eating disorder. New York psychotherapist Phyllis Cohen has successfully treated body image issues of teenage girls for more than twenty-five years. The result of their collaboration is a groundbreaking, much-needed resource for mothers who are trying to help their daughters navigate the difficult years of adolescence.
Smart, straightforward, and accessible, You Have to Say I'm Pretty, You're My Mother is the first book to combine insightful thinking and hard-won wisdom with practical advice and clear answers on everything from issues as complex as the difference between disordered eating and eating disorders to those as topical as body piercing and promiscuity.
Teenage girls present their mothers with a unique set of challenges, especially where the issue of body image is concerned. The passage from childhood to adulthood is fraught with real perils for girls coming of age today; they are constantly bombarded with messages that no matter how they look, they are always falling short of some unrealistic physical ideal. In addition, they are told that they have to grow up emotionally and sexually, and do it fast. Just when a girl needs her mother's guidance the most, she is trying to separate from her mother and establish her own identity. So an innocent comment like "Isn't that skirt a little short?" can result in a storm of tears and slammed doors, effectively breaking off any communication and leaving both feeling equally alone and misunderstood.
In You Have to Say I'm Pretty, You're My Mother, Pierson and Cohen give you guidance, perspective, and hope. They'll show you how to listen to your daughter, and decode what she is really asking when she says, "Do I look particularly fat today?" They give you the real answers to the universal mother questions: "What do I do now?" and "What happened to the little girl who loved me?" They explain why every slammed door will eventually open and how to build a closer relationship.
There are sample dialogues, lists (funny and smart ones like the ten things you should never say to your daughter about sex, and just plain smart ones, like how to know if your daughter is at risk for an eating disorder), a chapter just for fathers (who are often every bit as inscrutable as their daughters), and a section of resources and reading for both parents and daughters. Picking up where Reviving Ophelia left off, this funny, wise, invaluable guide will give you the tools to help your daughter feel good about herself, body and soul.

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Editorial Reviews Review

A therapist and a mom have written a wise book for mothers of teenage girls who spend half of their time in front on a mirror and the other half fighting with them about what they see. The authors' fresh approach urges moms to "think of fat as an emotion." A daughter’s belly shirts, body critiques, and food quirks are the vocabulary to talk about what is really bothering her: she’s aware of who she isn’t (razor thin and model perfect), but hasn’t figured out who she is. Stephanie Pierson and Phyllis Cohen’s techniques for teaching body comfort are subtle and highly practical. For example, how to give your daughter a compliment, help her understand sexuality, distinguish between taking her body apart and knowing what looks best on her, and, on the lighter side, what to say if you never want her to talk to you again. The beauty of their approach is a two-way mirror, they also ask mothers to explore their own feelings about beauty and body. The book’s depth, humor, and guidance will attract many grateful readers. --Barbara Mackoff

From Publishers Weekly

Pierson, the mother of a teenage daughter whose "self-esteem was based on the circumference of her thighs," and Cohen, a psychotherapist specializing in adolescents, team up to write this encouraging and practical "road map" for mothers whose daughters struggle with body issues. They carefully outline how mothers and daughters can improve communication, and help mothers understand that their own feelings-about food, their bodies, sex, etc.-play the primary role in how daughters perceive these same things. In chapters covering the basics of body image, mother-daughter and father-daughter relationships, the "care and feeding" of adolescent girls, and sex, Pierson and Cohen show how girls use their bodies as the "vocabulary for their emotions" (when a girl says she feels fat, she's talking about her feelings, not her need to go on a diet); how proper boundaries are crucial; how statements that mean well can make things worse ("You'd be so much prettier if your hair wasn't in your eyes"); how daughters test fathers; how to encourage proper nutrition and recognize "disordered eating"; and how mothers can empower their daughters to explore their sexuality but still feel comfortable saying no. This is a caring, clearly-even simply-written volume that will undoubtedly help mothers understand the kinds of pressures their daughters feel, and enable them to face the tough adolescent years as allies rather than adversaries.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (May 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743229185
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743229180
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,621,210 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful resource for parents of daughters November 19, 2003
Having once been a teenage girl, and now the mother of a little girl, I know that daughters strive deeply for their parents' approval. Everything a parent says to their daughter will affect her in one way or another. The book, "You Don't Have to Say I'm Pretty, You're My Mother," by Stephanie Pierson and Phyllis Cohen, CSW, describes for both parents how their responses directly affect their daughter's self and body image.
Some may think that the mother is the only one who has the job of making sure her daughter feels good about who she is and how she looks. After reading this book you'll understand that the father shares this responsibility. Every action, every reaction, and every spoken word parents say to their daughter, makes her who she is. Daughters seek approval from both parents, not just their mother.
Readers will learn what to say, what not to say, and how to say it. In addition, the books lists and discusses the potential problems that could arise during a daughter's teenage years. highly recommends this book -- it's an easy way for parents to learn how to help their daughters develop a positive self and body image. What a wonderful resource for parents of daughters!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read for Moms April 29, 2003
By A Customer
This is a thoughtful and provocative book about mothering daughters. A must read for every woman with a teen age or pre-teen daughter, it lends insight into womanhood as well as the adolescent female experience and does this with a sense of humor and great warmth.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly more valuable for fathers than mothers September 12, 2003
I recommend this book to any parent who has a teenage daughter. It's especially valuable to me as a father because it gives me the viewpoint of the mother and presents the side of the daughter. If you have a close relationship to a teenage girl and aren't one, don't pass up this book.
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More About the Author

I was born and raised in Baltimore, went to college in Connecticut, worked in advertising in New York since the day I graduated from college. I have always written - advertising copy (I am a creative director at a small NY agency) and books. I like to write about lifestyle, food, entertaining, and issues that are relevant to women. I am a contributing editor to Metropolitan Home Magazine. I have written profound books about body image issues of teenage girls and I have ghost-written cookbooks. My new book lets me use my life experience to help other women shortcut their own experiences. I think of myself at the moment as a Life Sherpa. Or as Oprah would probably say, "as a life sherpa in progress." I feel like I have done pretty much everything, at least once. I have had one marriage, one husband, one divorce, two daughters, many Bearded Collies, countless cats, zillions of great friends, endless life experiences, one perfect macaroni and cheese recipe.

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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
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