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Daughter VERY stressed about returning to school - because of clothes!

(62 Posts)
doninwales Sun 02-Sep-18 11:28:27

Am very worried about my daughter who is becoming extremely stressed about returning to school this week.

She is going back, into the sixth form, where there is no uniform policy - so wearing own clothes.
Of her group of friends 10-15, most are thin, except for her and one other. She is by no means big - but has a slightly bigger belly. I/we don't really notice, but she claims all her friends DO notice.

She is constantly breaking down, claiming that she can't decide what to wear. It takes her 20+ minutes just to decide what to wear for a trip to the shops (in case of what people think of her). She is SO stressed about having to decide what to wear to school EVERY day.

I don't really know what to do and am getting concerned about what SHE might do.

I am always calm with her, even when she is stressed/shouting/crying. I have been shopping with her, pretty much agreeing to buy anything she wants (whilst trying not to spoil her) - but she is very particular and 'wouldn't be seen' in clothes from some shops. Yet can't find anything suitable 'for her shape' and 'for her age'. Doesn't really matter what I say to apply any logic to the situation, she seems to have fixed views on these matters.

She has considered (and is still considering) going to a different school, where she knows no one (more stress) and has worse results (she is an A* student) just because it has a uniform. Am supporting her with whatever choice she makes (though suspect there will be different stresses if she goes to another school).

I just don't know where to turn next. As a typical teenager she has fixed, stead-fast views, so any attempt to explain (quite honestly) that she looks fine, and clothes look good etc... are met with argument and that 'I just don't understand'.

I have agreed to join a gym with her, though this is not going to be a quick fix (and we can only go to certain places and certain times in case she is seen).

Whilst she has never showed any signs of hurting herself, I wonder if this situation shows signs of when children DO consider hurting themselves.

At best, I suspect her (currently excellent) academic performance is going to suffer, and at worst......well, I don't want to think about it.

Whilst I DO understand body image for teenage girls, I clearly don't fully appreciate the implications of 'peer pressure' amongst her age group. I certainly don't know what else to do.

I have offered to take her to Personal Shoppers, therapists etc...

Does anyone else have any other suggestions...?

BTW, I am her dad!

Her mum is rather more hard-nosed about the situation and they typically just end up shouting at each other which makes matters worse.


OP’s posts: |
PerspicaciaTick Sun 02-Sep-18 11:38:38

Maybe she could come up with her own "uniform", a sort of capsule wardrobe that mixes together well. Start by helping her narrow down what she looking for, tops and trousers? Dresses? A jumper, cardigan or hoodie? What sort of coat? What sort of shoes? Does she follow anyone on social media whose style she likes that she can share with you? Can you help her to order a bunch of stuff online so she can try it all on at home and mix it? Remind her she only needs to focus on the first day, has she already got a favourite outfit she could use? She can always go shopping next weekend once she has seen what other people are wearing.
I'd also think about a GP visit as she does sound rather overwhelmed with anxiety.

legocardsagain Sun 02-Sep-18 11:45:33

I was going to suggest a capsule wardrobe as well. Get a look she is happy with, then duplicate with same jeans, different colour. Same shirt style different colour, then similar colour, different style and so on.

Use scarves as accessories that then almost hide the tummy area. I know someone who concealed her pregnancy at work with scarves until she was 6months!

Take the few outfits she is happy with and expand from there. Use Pinterest with her for style tips.

From a self harm perspective, you're right to be concerned. Can her mum not try and alter her approach as well? A girl's biggest influence on her own life and how she will live, comes from her mum.

doninwales Sun 02-Sep-18 11:46:16

Thanks PerspicaciaTick.

I have certainly (carefully) suggested seeing a GP/therapist about her anxiety. But is difficult getting her to agree.

I 'think' I have also tried what you suggested - her OWN 'uniform' selected from a special wardrobe of clothes.

I have told her to prepare for a week at a time. Maybe a couple of pairs of jeans, and a variety of tops. Then mix and match through the week. Thereafter rotate, perhaps introducing a new top/trousers fro time to time.

But it seems to take her ages just to pick ONE outfit, and then appears with a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. She says it took her ages to decide on that, and she isn't even happy with it!

'Waiting to see what others are wearing' I think is a no-go area. The problem is that she perceives all her friends to have better figures than her and therefore can wear almost anything. She sees her body as inferior and that few clothes suit 'her shape'. Seeing what her friends wear just makes things worse.

I DO appreciate any suggestions, though now 'I' feel that I am just pushing back at your suggestions. Which is exactly what she is doing to any of 'my' suggestions.



OP’s posts: |
niknac1 Sun 02-Sep-18 11:48:19

I think the personalised shopper is a good idea, I think House of Fraser do it or maybe just go to a shop she loves kes and ask for a shop assistant to help.

LoniceraJaponica Sun 02-Sep-18 11:48:26

When DD was in 6th form (just finished this year) the girls seemed to have a "uniform" of either black skinny jeans or cigarette pants.

Lancelottie Sun 02-Sep-18 11:50:23

It'll be winter soon. Jeans, jumper, job done.

DD is having the same agonies of indecision, but her brother assures her that people only worry about it for the first week. After that, apart from a few Cool Dudes, it's jeans and converse all the way.

lpchill Sun 02-Sep-18 11:51:19

I feel for her. It's only two years then she is away.

To help reduce the stress of dressing go through her clothes together. Anything that doesn't fit, duplicate or is broken goes to charity. Go through again and chuck our anything she doesn't like. Then go through again chuck stuff that doesn't go with anything. That should hopefully leave clothes that she loves and will go together. That will take the stress out of finding something to wear. Explain to her if she doesn't buy lots of clothes she can have fewer clothes that you spend a bit more money on but look great! Look at the French style. They have very few clothes but always look made up.

FissionChips Sun 02-Sep-18 11:51:21

Could she be anxious and stressed about other stuff and is sort of transferinng it onto the clothes, iykwim?

doninwales Sun 02-Sep-18 11:51:50

Thanks legocardagain.

I hadn't thought of scarves. Don't think I've seen her ever wear one. But is certainly one thing to consider/suggest, though presumably only when the weather gets cooler.

The major problem is that I rarely see her in any outfit that SHE is happy with. I/we think she looks fine, but in HER eyes, she doesn't. Hence why I think I need to find some Personal Shopper that can work with her and maybe better help her to create a personal image she IS happy with.

Sadly, I can't turn to her mum for help. They are typically at loggerheads most of the time.
'You look fine', 'Change schools then', 'I'm not going to put up with this every school day', 'Group up' etc....
She has very little empathy :-(


OP’s posts: |
Mommybearx Sun 02-Sep-18 11:51:55

I only skimmed that but If it’s just her stomach take her to the gp, I had a bloated stomach all my life until mid twenties I found out I had a auto immune problem and that’s what caused bloating. Now I don’t have that problem. Worth finding out. Maybe at that age you can do walks or jogging together to make her more comfortable with her body too, exercise is healthy and especially if at the end of it she will feel more comfortable plus stress reliever

doninwales Sun 02-Sep-18 12:00:25

Today I already suggested the Personal Shopper in Debenhams.

I've used them myself as 'I' have little idea about

Unfortunately, she says that the only clothes she would consider wearing in Debenhams are Top Shop or Pretty Little Miss (I think they are the two), and that the selections in store are small and she's looked through them already.

I 'think' I've seen in the past 'independent Personal Shoppers' that are willing to come around town with you (in any shop) to help you. 'If' this exists, then perhaps that might be a better option. First a 'consultation' to discuss what she likes (if anything!) or doesn't like, and then a trip into two and around the shops.

I suspect it would only be in London and/or larger towns, but am going to look into to.

BTW FissionChips, I don't 'think' there are any other issues. She has a lovely group of friends. Goes out to house-parties regularly. Did well in her exams (12 A/A*). Has other sport/musical activities etc. etc..

In fact, I don't think that 'clothes' per se IS her issue. It's her body shape that she isn't happy with.

Fortunately, she doesn't have any eating disorder (in either way) - she eats normal meals with the family, including the periodic takeaways. I have agreed to go on 'a diet' with her (which is just cutting down on the wrong foods and eating even more veg and fruit) AND to join a gym with her. This may help in the medium/long term, but certainly not for at least a few months or more...

OP’s posts: |
doninwales Sun 02-Sep-18 12:02:59

Interesting Mommybearx, never even heard of/considered a bloated stomach. Worth me investigating.

She DOES already walk the dogs. I HAVE suggested jogging and/or cycling with her. Whilst she is open to those ideas, she doesn't want to be seen! Which makes the idea an almost non-starter. Perhaps jogging in the dark as the nights close in.

OP’s posts: |
Chipotlejars Sun 02-Sep-18 12:07:18

As the mother of an anxious teen I think you are doing the right thing by listening to her and supporting her but I wouldn't get drawn in to her anxiety any more than that. Hope that doesn't sound too harsh but she needs resolute, firm and calm assurance that she looks fine, that everyone worries about starting in the sixth form at first so it's totally normal to feel anxious, and that after a couple of months no one will really bother about what she is wearing.

Teens may kick back against any advice we give them but they definitely are listening "underneath"!

Reassure her that virtually every picture of every woman we see nowadays is photo-shopped or lit to look unrealistically good.

And even where there are pics of "real" women in the press, many of them benefit from the advice of stylists or professional make up artists.

Tell her that no one is perfect; even top models get out of bed looking crap!

If I were her parent, I would be changing the emphasis of your conversations around to things she is good at, her interests, her unique qualities etc - anything that will post her confidence.

Could she lay off social media a bit and spend the extra time on an activity she is good at?

Emphasise that people will respect her for her character and that looks and one's outer appearance is very much secondary to that.

If financially possible, I might also look at getting her a couple of sessions with a licensed psychologist as she does sound exceedingly anxious.

Good luck and hope the start of term goes well for her!

PetraDelphiki Sun 02-Sep-18 12:08:02

How rich are you feeling? could be an option as then there are loads of other brands.

FVFrog Sun 02-Sep-18 12:09:55

I would also try and get her to plan in advance what she will wear for the week, try it on, make sure she is as happy as she can be and write it down so she doesn’t have to make a decision in the mornings. She may be anxious about other aspects of 6th form also (I have an anxious high achiever DS), and it’s manifesting itself through clothes. Can she maybe get one or two really fab pairs that she loves shoe/boot wise that she feels good in when she wears?

doninwales Sun 02-Sep-18 12:14:07

Excellent, thanks Chipotlejars.

What you say is exactly how I 'try' to manage the situation. Remaining calm, accentuating the positives. Listening to her anxieties, and whilst not brushing them aside, trying to direct her to solutions.

I AM hoping that a week into the term and she will find it less stressful. I have tried to explain that it will be the same at University, but she thinks she will be more 'mature and ready' in a few years time.

'Laying off social media' is practically a no-go area. She never lets go of her phone. I assume this is the same for MOST teenagers, despite me not agreeing or being happy with it. Fortunately she seems only to use it for chatting with her social group - I don't think she watches YouTube or other social media etc... So possibly not as bad as it could be.

OP’s posts: |
Chipotlejars Sun 02-Sep-18 12:14:59

Boost (not post) her confidence I meant.

Also sorry took so long to post that that I didn't see the bit about her having lots of friends , good social life and interests etc.

If it's her stomach she is focusing on then it might be worth a trip to go to rule out any health issues?

Other than that, horse riding is very good for one's "core".

But maybe she is just focusing on her stomach because of generalized anxiety and she just needs to start college, go "with" her feelings of anxiety, discover everything is not as bad as she imagined it might be and come out the other end ifysim smile

Good luck again anyway and you sound like a great dad!

IAmLurkacus Sun 02-Sep-18 12:16:37

I think this is a very common scenario. She won’t believe you if you tell her but the rest of her group probably feel the same.

You sound like a good parent doing the right things and she will eventually appreciate you!

Agree eventually they will all fall into standard ‘uniform’ of jeans, t-shirt hoody, so she just needs her own capsule ‘uniform’

Mommybearx Sun 02-Sep-18 12:16:44

If she doesn’t want to be seen
Get a exercise dvd like Davina, insanity, smoothy maker...

I have two baby daughters, I can only imagine the stress you must feel with her feeling like this

doninwales Sun 02-Sep-18 12:16:59

Thanks PetraDelphinki. I've been looking at similar things.

The one issue I see is that most appear to be directed more at adults.

But, I HAVE found one that is offering a 'PersonalStylist for Teenagers' !

I wonder if I can get her to start feeling better about her body shape and building a personal style based on her OWN image, that she will find it less stressful looking for those particular clothes.

Won't be cheap, but might be worth it.

OP’s posts: |
doninwales Sun 02-Sep-18 12:17:59

Thanks FVFrog, great idea. She WILL spend 30 minutes each morning deciding what to wear!

So...I need to encourage her to plan ahead of time and have her clothes for the next day ready in advance. Then she won't feel anxious about the morning and deciding what to wear!

OP’s posts: |
PetraDelphiki Sun 02-Sep-18 12:19:33

One other point...if you do go to Westfield take her to bravissimo sand make sure she’s in the right size bra (she won’t be)...a properly fitting bra will make her look thinner even if it’s a big cup size...

HunterHearstHelmsley Sun 02-Sep-18 12:20:12

Whereabouts do you live? Top Shop on Oxford Street have a personal shopper service.

Chipotlejars Sun 02-Sep-18 12:20:29

Argh sorry X posts again

I meant trip to GP to rule out any health issues

And sympathies about phone use. I don't know what the answer is. I do try and limit the time my DD is on it, but she always "needs" it for a school work or some other "legitimate" purpose! It's a constant battle tbh!

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