A special interview with my good friend, Dr. Christiane Northrup, New York Times bestselling author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, The Wisdom of Menopause, Mother-Daughter Wisdom, and now Beautiful Girl, a children’s book for girls ages 2 to 6.
FL: Why did you write Beautiful Girl, your first children’s book?
CN: All over the world today, many girls still get the idea that their bodies are somehow not as good as a boy’s body. These girls—who later grow up to be women with girls of their own—get the message that they are weaker in spirit, not worth educating, somehow cursed because of their menstrual cycle, and so forth. The message “Your body isn’t good enough” translates in a little girls mind to “YOU aren’t good enough.” This becomes a core belief that gets passed on to the next generation.
I want women and girls everywhere to know—deep in their bone marrow—that girls are born special, whole, and perfect, and nothing can alter that. I have always liked working “upstream” long before health problems hit the body. I want girls to have an imprint of self-love firmly in place at a young age.
FL: How important is a women’s body image to her health?
CN: A woman’s body image is absolutely paramount to her health. In fact, studies have shown that those who think of themselves as healthy are indeed healthy—no matter what is really going on with their bodies. All health begins with how we perceive ourselves and our bodies.
I remember when my mother taught me about my menstrual cycle and pregnancy. She, like millions of other mothers before and since, did not have the words or the experience to teach me about the miraculous cycle in my body—the cycle that is responsible for all human life on our planet and connects us to the moon and the tides. Nor did she have the words to teach me about the gift of sensual pleasure that is the birthright of all girls. If she had, my life surely would have been different. For one, I probably would not have suffered from devastating menstrual cramps for decades. I do not blame her. She did the best she could, given her background and the era in which she came of age.
When a little girl is brought up to accept, respect, and enjoy the processes and feelings in her female body, her health will be nourished and supported at the most basic level, including her immunity and hormonal balance. And she probably won’t have to spend years recovering from shame and female pain that has nothing to do with her—but which are too often the result of an adverse legacy passed down all too often in families.
FL: What are some of the themes in the book that you are the most proud of?
CN: I am very proud of the beauty and the wonder of this book, the idea that our female bodies are connected with nature just like a garden. When you see the illustrations you will easily envision your beautiful girl’s face flushed with delight and wonder as she explores the pages with you.
FL: Even though this is a children’s book, I hear that women much older have had some surprising reactions to your book.
CN: Yes—and this has touched me deeply. Way back when the book was just in galley form, I showed it to my mother (age 87) and her best friend Anne (age 89). They were both VERY touched by it and its message. My mother said, “Boy—if only I had had a book like this when I was a little girl. It would have changed everything.” Another woman, my housekeeper, was in tears when she read the book. It spoke very deeply to the little girl inside her.
FL: You’ve scheduled a live online event called Feeling Beautiful for January 24, 2013. Can you tell us what prompted you to hold this event?
CN: I designed “Feeling Beautiful” to help women of all ages who struggle with body image. As a physician who knows the importance of body image to our overall health, I wanted to have a way to inspire women to love their bodies no matter what size or shape they are. This is possible!!! And I know EXACTLY how to do this because I’ve done it myself and I’ve helped thousands of others to do the same thing. It’s women’s health at its most fundamental level!
FL: Any final thoughts?
CN: Yes. Learning to love yourself should not become a life-long challenge that most of us never meet. Self-love is part of your birthright. I’m excited to be sharing this message to “beautiful girls” everywhere, including those disguised as grandmothers.
Christiane Northrup, M.D., a board-certified ob/gyn, is a visionary pioneer, beloved authority in women’s health and wellness, and the author of the ground breaking New York Times bestsellers Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and The Wisdom of Menopause. Following a 25-year career in both academic medicine and private practice, Dr. Northrup devotes her time to helping women truly flourish. Follow Dr. Christiane Northrup on Facebook, Twitter, at www.drnorthrup.com, and by listening to her weekly Hay House Internet radio show Flourish!