December 07, 2010

Girls and Body Image

The dark haired beauty and I had an argument recently that really upset me. It was early evening, about 30 minutes before dinner time when she came to me with a question.

"Dad, can I have a piece of candy?"

I said no it is too close to dinner and then she asked if she could have some candy for dessert. I reminded her that she had been to a birthday party earlier that day and eaten a bunch of junk food there. She nodded her head and I said that I thought that was enough for today.

And then she leveled me with this, "Are you calling me fat?"

I am sure that my eyes must have grown wide and my jaw dropped. She is 6.5 years old and I have never described her as fat. Neither has her mother, aunts, uncles, grandparents or siblings. Needless to say I was dumbfounded by this and completely taken aback.

I have a million questions: Where is this coming from? Is someone at school calling her names?

She is bright, she is funny, she is beautiful and she is most certainly not fat. For the past two weeks or so I have paid closer attention to her behavior and I haven't noticed any thing. She hasn't mentioned this or said anything else that makes me worry but still I am concerned.

I made a point of telling her that I didn't think that she was fat. I told her that we all try to develop healthy eating habits and pointed out that her great grandparents all lived (and are living, hi grandpa!) long lives because they had healthy eating habits.

FWIW, that is a lie. With the exception of my grandmother they really weren't big on exercise and they ate what they wanted. Good genes in this family, but I digress.

All I want is for my daughter to be happy with herself. I know that she is going to have her complaints about her body- that seems to be part of being female. I don't know that we can get around that, but I hope to minimize those. No reason to add more challenges to life if you can avoid it.

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