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Worried about wanting to be "skinny"

(4 Posts)
ClareaBear Sat 29-Mar-14 16:22:25

Hi all,

I'm not sure if this is the correct place to ask this? I am very new to mumsnet to still finding my way around! Sorry if this is the wrong area.

I have two daughters, 13 and other will be 11 in June. We are all Eastenders watchers in my house, and there is one particular actress who is extremely skinny. (Actress is called Hetti Bywater, plays Lucy Beale.) I know there is being naturally skinny but this poor girl really does look very very ill. She's a beautiful young woman but there is certainly more to it than being naturally slim.

Anyway daughters had some friends over last night for a sleepover and were all watching Eastenders. Whilst making dinner I overheard them all commenting on Lucy's legs, all saying how pretty she was and how they wish she could look like her. That horrible ideal of the "thigh gap" that has come around in recent months. It really scares me how this seems to be what young girls aspire to. I was shocked and upset when my 10 year old and I were watching an episode of The Big Bang Theory and she said Penny (played by Kaley Cuoco) was fat!! Not sure if any of you watch TBBT but I've always thought Penny was gorgeous and had a great figure! I'd guess she is a UK dress size 10.
They're at an all girls' school and I really worry about what they all talk about, do they just flick through magazines commenting on everyone's weight? I know it's normal for young girls to start thinking about about their appearance but I know my friends and I were certainly not thinking about these issues when we were 10. And even at 13 I would not have thought someone as teeny tiny as Lucy Beale was someone to envy. (Sorry I hope that does not sound harsh. The last thing I want to do is make their ideas of body image even more skewed by telling them that this actress is UNattractive. Some girls are naturally skinny and the last thing I would want is for my daughters to go the opposite way and think anyone who is very slim naturally are "ugly" or whatever). I just worry that they think far too much about body image at such young ages.

ZuleikaD Sat 29-Mar-14 19:00:23

I think the best thing you can do is model a positive body image yourself - comment on how much you like and appreciate your own body and encourage her to look at sportswomen for comparison rather than actresses or models.

It's also worth remembering that at puberty wanting to be thin can be a fear-based way of trying to divert unwanted male attention away, so perhaps worth chatting about whether there are any boys in her circle who are paying her unwanted attention. If she has no boys in her circle then perhaps consider helping her expand it.

This stuff is hard, and getting harder.

Jaffakake Sat 29-Mar-14 21:04:00

There's some stuff available somewhere on the internet that shows how images are photoshopped. It may be worth seeking out, so you can help your daughter see how what we're shown is invented.

The thigh gap thing is apparently a physical impossibility for someone who is healthy & not at deaths door.

I think to be a positive role model is the best thing. Become educated about the debate & teach your girls to think & be questioning.

I don't envy you. It's a hard job being the mum of girls. I'm glad I've got a son. When I stand on the scales he copies me cos he wants to know how they work & thinks it's a seat!

LyndaCartersBigPants Sat 29-Mar-14 21:37:00

I agree about modelling good behaviour yourself, but that is easier said than done!

Check out A Mighty Girl for loads of resources to help teach our DDs about the importance of being clever, kind, strong etc - anything but 'pretty' (although of course, beautiful is better than merely pretty, as it's about more than just looks).

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