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It’s happened. Your daughter says she’s fat. This could be the start of something horrific, or the end of this body image problem forever. What do you say? What should you do?
If you haven’t already noticed, it’s cool to be thin. Actually, I’ll correct that. It’s cool to be stick thin. But before you get cross with me, I’m just reiterating the media’s message. From celebrities through to articles in magazine and photos of people on social media, the message comes across clear: no curves, no fat and no looking different. It’s this message that our daughters pick up on and which can have terrible consequences.
I have a daughter and I know that it’s best to be prepared rather than flounder around on the spot. I’ve done some thinking and a lot of research and come up with a plan of how to handle this delicate situation.
What to Say & Do If Your Daughter Says She’s Fat
“Of course, you’re not fat! You are beautiful,” you say.
Good or bad idea? Turns out, that isn’t what you should say, but for many of us, that’s the first thing that comes out of our mouth. The truth is, and you’ll know this yourself, if your daughter thinks of herself in one way, she’s unlikely to change her mind just because you said so! Instead, consider these ideas instead:
- Ask your daughter why she thinks she is fat. You may discover it’s due to bullying, her clothes aren’t fitting, peer pressure is happening, or her body is simply naturally changing. It could be that she has simply noticed her body is different from her friends. She may be taller or have a larger tummy than them, and here’s where talk about differences comes into play. Help her identify parts of her body she does like and focus on the positives.
- Has she got the idea from you? If you’re concerned with how you look in the mirror and watch what you eat, she may be copying you. Start being kinder to yourself and identifying the parts of your body you like.
- Teach how to have a healthy inner dialogue. Positive self-talk is important, as is focusing on her favourite qualities.
- Introduce the concept of distorted body image. Show how magazine photos are airbrushed, that media glamorises a certain type of body shape and uses underweight models.
- Acknowledge her feelings. Help her feel loved and cared for by demonstrating that you have heard her opinion.
If you’ve had to have this chat with your daughter, I’d really appreciate if you could help out other mums and dads by sharing your advice with us. Please leave a comment and help us parents out!
Posted: Tuesday 18 June 2019