freaking out here, people

The disadvantage to being on one’s own all day is that there’s nobody about to hear the “Aaaah! OMG! What have I done?”.Β Step up to the plate, bloggy buddies.

What do we do with a 9 year old who will only wear tights, rather than socks, because of her “fat legs”?

We know that my default tone is self deprecation. I routinely refer to the frizzy hair, the short fat legs, the general incompetence. On the other hand, when it comes to the little ones, I’m knocking them down with positive comments about their achievements; I praise their ability to try, to keep going, to learn, to share, to be kind, to be polite, to have fun, to make the best of things. I’ll talk about an outfit they’re happy to have put together, or how good they’ve got at doing hair. I regularly tell them how wonderful, kind, smart and beautiful they are.

Turns out, I’ve been modelling something else entirely. That smart cookie has decided to opt for how I treat myself as the one to follow. She believes what I do, not what I say, dammit.

How do I make my darling, beautiful, kind, empathetic, sensitive, not fat daughter believe in herself?

yesterday's pre school activity was significantly less stressful

I will, I’ll try to stop pointing out my flaws before I get found out. Surely it’s not too late to overcome a lifetime of being critical of my own thighs?

I’ll try to find black wooly school tights in April, if that’s what she’s comfortable in.

How do we get her comfortable in her own skin, and maybe even in socks?

How does it happen that an active, healthy, 9 year old is worried about being fat?


27 thoughts on “freaking out here, people

  1. Oh that’s a shame, and she’s so mistaken! I wonder would it be any good to show her photos of herself – somehow the mirror is distorting, as of course is looking down. And you, Speccy, are such a chic and good-looking woman in any photos you’ve ever posted here that we never want to hear a self-deprecating peep out of you again.

    1. It would be bad enough if she were an unhealthy weight, but she’s far from it! Yes, I’ll have to learn a whole new way of looking at myself if I’m to get her to see herself differently. Eek!

  2. Dear Missus,
    Would you give over the fat lark! You are right for you. Better for people to say “There you are” than “Where are you?”. Being of the stick insect variety has many drawbacks – always feeling cold and age sits easily and far to visibably on the face neck and hands!

    Focus on Girl2’s eyes, remind her how wonderful they are when she smiles – just look back at the last photo… That is her in the background, is it not?
    Did you know that schools uniforms were invented to make us girls look unattractive. At least they only come out of the closet for a few hours five times a week.

    The ould hag, GM

  3. Tell her it’s complete and utter twaddle on her part and that you promise to set a better example of positiveness for ever after?! πŸ˜‰ Tights are clingier and less flattering anyway. And keep your footsies cold. In my very unhumble opinion. Tell her that she’s loved and drop subtle compliments when you can. And despair of this slim (ie anorexic stick insect) obsessed culture of ours. πŸ™‚

    1. I have to ‘fess up to my own negativity about my shape. Hugs cure most things round here; I just hope they’re extra powerful for a while πŸ™‚

      1. I hope that I didn’t come across as harsh but it was something that you raised in your post, that perhaps she is seeing what you do rather than what you say. Hugs do cure everything. Even hopefully teenagers. πŸ™‚

    2. IE, not at all harsh πŸ™‚ I do think that, although I sort of accept the shape I am now, I’m still prone to comment on my legs/ tum/ chest negatively. I’m 46. I should be past this!

  4. Because of my daughter’s own experience recently with being excited about her own fitness level makes me wonder if it might help to turn her focus to all that goes into having a healthy body – not focusing on fat or thin, but a good diet and exercise. No doubt she already gets those things, and maybe you can draw her attention to what different foods do for her and how different types of physical activities will help her as she grows and her body changes. My daughter Katie has recently observed that many kids in her class are not fat, but are also not at all fit. Katie’s additional advice: tell her to look at other kids and notice that a lot of them don’t look perfect in their tights either and they still wear them. πŸ™‚

    1. I’ve allowed my weight loss to be about getting thinner rather than getting healthier, so that’s changing! She dances 3 times a week and plays sport a similar amount, so she gets plenty of exercise and eats reasonably well- that’s a good point about the types of different activities. I don’t yet know if somebody said something, or if she compared herself to some of her peers.

      1. As she keeps at her dance and sports, I think she will learn to appreciate all the things that she can do and the control she has over her own body and how all those things work together to make her unique!

  5. The 70s were a cruel decade; I’ve been remembering being self concious in hotpants while at primary school 😦
    Thanks everybody, for all your thoughts and ideas in response to my panic striken venting! πŸ˜€

  6. Fiona, that’s a tough one – I’m fighting the same battle. I wish I knew the answer: we’ve so much to fight against in the media. All the best and when you know the answer, tell me!

  7. It isn’t just what girls see in the media these days. It’s what happens at school, amongst themselves. The mean things people say so casually that get taken as gospel, no matter how many others contradict it.

    Tell her how much you love her, just the way she is, as much as she will let you. Tell her that you will always adore her no matter how she looks, what she wears, who she chooses to ultimately be. Those are the words I most want to hear from my mother, even today. I don’t know if it will help counter the negative vibes she’s getting elsewhere, and you probably do all this in spades anyway. But, I could never hear it enough at nine. Or at forty-three. πŸ™‚

  8. Oh, Fiona, I despair right along with you, and really do wish I had something solid to tell you. I’ve read the previous comments and I just concur…the messages our daughters pick up are in the very air we breathe, and I know that even being raised a long, long time ago, by nine, I had a fairly unhealthy sense of body image. I don’t think I can even really blame the media back then, or at least not like now! What a sad state we are in…I know that ultimately, maybe not so much at nine, but in time, the things you tell her are going to be the messages that stick. I do believe that. This hurts my heart, but I know you’re on it! I’m glad you shared. Big hug, Debra

    1. I’m glad I shared too Debra, otherwise I might just have exploded right here πŸ˜‰ I did wonder if I should have said quite so much, but how to explain the freak otherwise? Thank you πŸ™‚

    1. I’ve asked the girls for help with that one! I told them I’d been unhappy with being a not healthy weight, and so I’d talk about wobbly bits etc, but that now I’m getting back to a healthy size I need to stop thinking about myself as fat, and that they have to challenge me anytime they hear me say anything negative about myself.

      It may make no difference to the perception in my head (though wouldn’t it be good if it did?) but I hope it makes a difference to them.

  9. Find an old piggy bank and anytime you are overheard making a depreciative comment about yourself, you have to put in a fiver…

    Girls start very young on the body image thing don’t they?!

  10. I had an odd experience a while back, my daughter rejected some trousers because, she said, they made her legs look too thin, not like they really were. I just nodded, right, fair enough, on to the next thing. Inwardly I was dancing (not like the other night, lively dancing) at the thought that she hadn’t been infected by skinny-legitis by all the skinny-legged girls in her class.
    Unfortunately, I can’t explain how she came to feel that way. I presume I said and did similarly supportive things to you and yours.
    You might have to start subtly by getting male visitors to slag off waifs on the telly as too thin.
    Anyhow, luckily for your 9-year-old, she has a very attractive mother.
    (I can say that, can’t I? That’s OK. It’s not improper as long as the complimenter is at least one sea away.)

  11. You know everytime I hear some media buddy saying how ridiculous it is to blame the meeja for girls’ poor image, I think who are they kidding??? We all know kids as young as 7 or 9 have poor body image
    Some good suggestions from the commentators above though.

  12. I’ve asked an expert – who is 10. After considering the situation, she recommends just letting your 9-yr-old carry on wearing black tights – because, she says, clothes are only a very small part of your life – and after a while it’ll sort itself out.

what do you think?

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