Interview with Shape Magazine’s former weight loss columnist

Dara Chadwick is currently a freelance journalist. She has appeared on NBC’s Today Show and Fox News Boston, and she has gotten praise from several publications including Publishers Weekly and Newsweek online

Chadwick was also Shape Magazine’s 2007 Weight-Loss Diary columnist. It was at this job that she got the motivation to write her book, You’d Be So Pretty If…Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies–Even When We Don’t Love Our Own. 

I was very fortunate to be able to interview Dara Chadwick and would like to thank her so much for her time! Hope everyone enjoys this interview as much as I did. 

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JK: Brief background about yourself, your career, why you decided to get involved with body image.

DC: I’ve been a magazine journalist for years and have always been physically active. After giving birth to two children, though, I found my health slipping to the bottom of my priority list – I wasn’t eating well, wasn’t working out regularly and I wasn’t feeling good. In 2007, I signed on as Shape magazine’s Weight-Loss Diary columnist. During that intense year of working with a dietitian, trainer and life coach – all in the public eye – I had the chance to not only confront my own body image issues, but also see first-hand the effect that the way I felt about my body was having on my daughter.

JK: Please tell me about your book, You’d Be So Pretty If: Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies–Even When We Don’t Love Our Own.

DC: You’d Be So Pretty If…: Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies — Even When We Don’t Love Our Own is a guide for moms who want to raise girls who feel good about their bodies, as well as a good read for women who’d like to come to terms with their own body image legacy. It’s based on my story, as well as the stories of the 40 women, girls and experts that I interviewed. It’s not a book that blames moms; instead, it encourages women to be conscious of the effect that their words and actions toward their bodies have on the young girls in their lives. The stories are funny, sad, happy and heart-warming, and they’ll make you re-think the way you talk about your body. 

JK: What gave you the motivation to write this book?

DC: The book was born out of a column I wrote for Shape. I was playing with a Mother’s Day theme and reflecting on the way my late mother felt about her own body and how that had shaped me, as well as how my feelings about my body were affecting my daughter’s feelings about hers. That got me thinking about the complex mother-daughter bond, and how body image gets wrapped up in that. The response to that column – both in me and from readers – told me I was on to something.

JK: Do you believe the media influences negative body image? What specific types of media?

DC: I include a chapter on media and body image in the book. Let’s face it – media is never going to go away. Advertisers and publishers sell products to women based on the idea that women always need to be improving themselves, and our own insecurities are used to make us want to buy products or magazines or weight-loss programs, etc. But knowledge is power; you can train yourself – and your daughter – to filter the media messages around you.

JK: What do you think society can do to ignore the media’s messages and focus solely on ourselves, without negative pressure?

DC: If you want to protect your daughter from the media’s harmful effects, it’s vital to teach her (and yourself) to think critically about what she’s seeing. One of the experts I talked to for the book – a fashion photo re-toucher – told me that we should look at images in magazines and advertising as if we were looking at artwork in a museum. If I look at a painting of the sky in a museum, I know that it’s a sky, but I also know it’s the artist’s vision of the sky. Learning to look at media images that way – as in, “that’s a beautiful woman, but it’s an artist’s vision and representation of a beautiful woman” helps us separate ourselves from the image and be more objective about what we’re seeing. It’s also important to understand the level of re-touching done on magazine and advertising photos. It’s not a photograph anymore; it’s an artist’s representation.

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~ by jklein0414 on October 29, 2009.

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