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DD (9) saying "I'm fat "

(14 Posts)
UnquietDad Wed 23-Sep-09 20:10:51

She's not, of course. (And I'm afraid there are some 9-year-olds in her school who are.) She is slim. She swims and does gymnastics. So what can we do? Beyond reinforcing how lovely and beautiful she is, which we do every day anyway?

She doesn't really say it in a moany way or even an unhappy way, especially. Just a sort of "I'm going to say this" way. It's something she comes out with occasionally, maybe about once every couple of weeks - although it seems to be getting more frequent...

I suppose finding out what makes her think this is a start - have sort of tried this but it's hard to get out of her.

Want to nip this in the bud before have a teenage anorexic on our hands... (Disclaimer: yes, I know anorexia is more complex than that and isn't just about weight, blah blah.) She seems to have good self-esteem in other ways.

overmydeadbody Wed 23-Sep-09 20:13:50

Yes see if you can get to the bottom of it. It's never too early to stary reenforcing a positive body image.

I know a ten year old anorexic sad

UnquietDad Wed 23-Sep-09 20:17:21

That's the thing, we do reinforce a positive body-image, always have done - pretty much every day we tell her how lovely she looks, etc.

I wonder if someone has been saying something at school?...

10yo anorexic, that's awful

AMumInScotland Wed 23-Sep-09 20:24:23

How about looking up her weight and height on a chart? (Maybe check first without telling her to make sure it's a valid one) With the best will in the world, girls won't always believe what their parents say about these things because, well, of course you'd say that wouldn't you?

itchyandscratchy Wed 23-Sep-09 20:26:07

Sorry to hear that UQD. I've been hearing the same things from my dd1 who was 8 last week sad

I think with her it's a bit of attention-seeking as she's always got a bit of a reaction from me when I've heard it on occasion. Don't know really whether I should just ignore it but I also didn't want her to think I was dismissing her. I told her I thought she was being silly and I asked her what made her think that. She said that she thought it would be nice to have thin legs (she too is very tall and slim) because it looked 'cool'. God it makes me shudder.

I am a bit overweight but have a very positive body image. She has never heard me or dh make comments about my body in a negative way - dh esp is very complimentary at all times and we've been the same with both dds. I'm wondering whether it might be the implicit messages that come with liking certain pop groups or watching Tv? She doesn't watch anything age-inappropriate (imho) but things like X factor or even strictly (which she loves) might be making her body-conscious?

I don't know what to say to you other than I sympathise. I'm not too worried about food as such, as she has a huge appetite and eats for England. I just can't imagine her having the discipline to limit her food, tbh.

bibbitybobbityhat Wed 23-Sep-09 20:29:05

I think all 9 year olds talk about this at school, to some extent.

But I can't tell you which ones are more likely to become anorexic. Or what you can do to help prevent it.

So will watch thread with interest.

UnquietDad Wed 23-Sep-09 21:39:58

Yes, she has a healthy appetite too. I'm also hoping it is just a bit of attention-seeking. DW seems to think so.

Thanks to all for comments so far.

bibbitybobbityhat Wed 23-Sep-09 22:18:51

I should just say that when I was about 12 me and lots of my friends decided we were fat and went on "diets" that consisted of taking packed lunches based on ryvita and low fat spread, or coming home for lunch, going a bit mad on exercise and drinking loads of diet coke. I think 12 then (mid 70s) was the equivalent of 9 now.

None of us became anorexic, afaik, but the dieting and being obsessed with body phase did indeed set me on a path of compulsive eating, becoming overweight, yo-yo dieting and general body hatred for the next 30 years.

So anything that can be done to prevent young girls going down that road has to be a good thing.

Sadly, I don't know what the answer is.

katiestar Thu 24-Sep-09 23:41:02

I'd lay off the 'how beautiful and lovely' stuff a bit because I think that might reinforce her preoccupation with her looks, and praise her other qualities kindness clevernes,gymnastic ability etc.

colditz Thu 24-Sep-09 23:43:53

UD, this phrase will be more potent from you than anyone else in the world at her age, so here it is.

"No you are not fat, you are beautiful. You have ALWAYS been beautiful, you probably always will be. You are my favourite 9 year old in the whole wide world and anyone who calls you fat is stupid."

mathanxiety Fri 25-Sep-09 05:25:42

Gymnastics is a rather body-conscious sport, whereas swimming is not. Maybe she has picked up something negative at the gym, perhaps something she has heard other girls say? Maybe she's just trying out the phrase to hear herself saying something teenagerish? I agree with Katiestar to lay off all mention of her size and shape or risk reinforcing whatever there is now in the way of preoccupation.

Earlybird Fri 25-Sep-09 06:00:20

Maybe it would help to refrain from commenting on her appearance, and talk instead about how important it is to have a healthy, strong body. You could also talk about how gymnastics and swimming help develop her coordination, balance, strength and flexibility (all of which are positive and non-appearance related things to say about her body). You could then progress to how important it is to eat sensibly so that her body is able to be strong and can do what she wants it to.

I think you are right to be aware of what is going on. It is also important to remember that even casual observations about her body/appearance at an impressionable age can have a big impact. (My mother's comments about a curvy bum are, I think, the reason my sister is so weight obsessed. And I still am aware that I have a 'long neck' and somehow feel it is not quite a good thing.)

When you want to say something about her appearance, maybe it would be wise to comment on her lovely, shiny hair, nice smile, or her beautiful skin, etc.

mrsjuan Fri 25-Sep-09 08:39:29

Agree with math I was going to ask if something had been said at gymnastics? I used to do it fairly seriously and when I was 11 & struggling with a move on the a bars my coach said ' it's simple Juan, you either have to do more strength work or lose weight' It was the first time I'd ever heard anyone mention weight as an issue and had honestly never considered my own appearance until then (I was very small for my age but not 'skinny' like some of the other gymnasts)
I wouldn't say that that one comment ruined my life or anything so dramatic as that but it definitely put something into my head that hadn't been there before.

I don't even think he meant it nastily - it was just practical to him & I didn't work hard enough on my strenghtheners!

But enough about my woes! She may well just have seen it on the tv & is trying it out as an attention thing. Agree with the other posters to avoid commenting on appearance (of her and anyone else) for the time being whilst making her aware of how her sports are brilliant for keeping her healthy.

UnquietDad Fri 25-Sep-09 10:23:51

katiestar/earlybird - oh, we do that as well...

DW is very sporty (much more so than me) and got her into swimming & gymnastics in the first place. So she already has that reinforcement.

colditz - I will try yours

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