Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Say What?


My daughter has been called FAT 3 times this month by other girls her age. It seriously breaks my heart. What's worse, is that the child has no fat on her. She's skinny. Beautiful. It's heart wrenching when out of the blue she says she wants to wear a towel around her as she goes next door to the slipp'n slide because she doesn't want anyone to see her fat stomach. Yesterday she wiggled her thighs saying, "see how fat they are, mom?" I wanted to scream and yell and cry all at once.

Besides telling her the truth about her actual beautiful perfectly growing body, what can I do? I've called the Mothers to see what happened and why their daughters were saying that, I've tried to explain to her that although people say things that are hurtful you need to love yourself no matter what. I've also said, "Dude...you are SO NOT FAT! I don't ever want to hear that out of your mouth again!"

So here's the deal. She doesn't hear the word "fat" from me. I am a Nazi about making sure I don't say negative things about myself. I have always said, "let's get healthy" rather than "let's lose weight." I KNOW so much of her self-esteem comes from how I feel about myself, and so I am careful.

Which in turn means that she hears it from the world. How can I protect her? How can I make her see? I have considered scientific charts to show her how she rates on the perfectly proportioned scale. Is calculating a BMI on a 7 year old okay to do or even accurate? I need advice! My heart is breaking for my little girl...
Update: So each of your comments and emails have been enlightening, to say the least. I feel empowered with what to do better, as well as new approaches to try. We have vamped up Hubby's role in the matter by re-instating daddy-daughter date night which gives them time to really talk. We have also taken the focus off the body and instead placed it on her reaction and feelings about mean things being said. Thankyou so much for your advice!

7 comments:

Rachel said...

That's really hard. But you're doing good by watching what you say and how you act in front of her. I had really bad issues with weight when I was her age and I know it's from my mom's comments and she didn't even know what she was doing to me. I remember going on my first "diet" when I was 9! It was crazy and I have such an unhealthy view of food and body image to this day.

I don't think you can really protect her from outside influences but you work on things at home. Love your image, love her image and try to instill that confidence in her. Not easy stuff to do and I am definitely not looking forward to this situation when Makayla is older.

You're beautiful Brianna!

Pittman Four said...

What's sad is that girls will grow up and say even more ugly things. They are HORRIBLE!!! It's on TV, at school, In magazines. It's so sad. I think what you are doing is great. I don't know if the bmi thing will hit home. Maybe have her daddy tell her how beautiful she is and that he wouldn't change a thing about her. What's also important is that somehow we have to teach our girls not to listen to the other girls around them. How do you do that????

:) keep up the great MOMMY Work :)

Jessie said...

I really like Kim's advice about having her daddy talk about how beutiful she is. But if that doesn't work maybe you can get a really cute boy her age to tell her how beautiful she is!!! This might open up a whole new can of worms for her!!

Kids are so MEAN!! It kills me to read stuff like this. Keep up the great mommy work!!!

Rachel said...

This is a hard one, for sure, and one that we will all go through as mothers of girls. Because girls are horrible to each other. But we have a strength, as well, because we have all been through those trenches.

You can tell her she's beautiful and thin until you're blue in the face, but when it's your word against "theirs", theirs is going to win out every time. I'd definitely skip the BMI and the charts - it makes her weight/appearance the issue, when the issue isn't that at all; the issue is how to deal with mean girls and hurtful words. And that's what I would focus on, actually. Maybe something like this:

Briana: Mom, a girl at school called me fat today.

You: Well, she's obviously wrong. Why do you think she would say that?

B: Because it's true - look at these thighs!

Y: Your thighs are perfect. But I can tell you're unsure. Do you think this other girl is maybe unsure about herself, too?

The point is, I would turn it around - while validating Briana's feelings, of course - and make it the other girl's problem. Because that's most likely what it is. You're already doing the right things for her self-image (good Mommy!). Maybe she just needs a little courage for dealing (or not dealing, if she needs to) with these other girls.

Mo said...

I don't have advice for you. But I might need advice from you when Devan goes through the same thing, which she inevitably will. But this post did remind me of a quote from a book I have called "Makeovers at the Beauty Counter of Happiness" and it goes like this;

" During my life I've spent thousands of hours and thousands of dollars on my hair, my make up and my clothes, trying to look prettier because I grew up believing that prettier girls had happier lives.
I'd be a lot happier now if I had that time and that money back".

I wasn't crazy about the book, but I love that quote. Good Luck!

wilkinson_fam said...

What the freak!?! Oh, don't EVEN get me started on this subject . . .

As my first child - a daughter, in fact - finishes up her first year of school, I have been A-MAZED at the cliquey and exclusive ways of little girls . . . AND their mothers.

Shortly after we moved into our neighborhood last year, I was asking another mother if our girls could get together so that Emma could find some friends in our new area. Her answer baffled me. "Oh, my daughter already has some friends in the neighborhood and from preschool that she plays with and so we're fine. Thanks for asking, though." Note: these girls are in freakin' KINDERGARTEN!

My point? This hesistancy to embrace others and what they have to offer - often made manifest by finding artificial "flaws" - is often used to camoflouge our own unease within ourselves. When I see a person - child or adult - that loves, accepts and embraces others freely, I see one who TRULY loves and accepts themselves.

The key? Be the soft place to fall. Like it or not, these things WILL happen. Acknowledge her feelings while sounding back with a dose of reality: "You are a wonderful person who is beautiful, giving and kind and there are other gentle and considerate girls who would love to be your friend."

And then we, as mothers, need to pray 'til our knees are raw that both we and they can make it to adulthood . . . intact.

Good luck, girl. I love you.

Sarah in the Middle said...

Oh, it makes me so mad the way girls treat each other! It sounds like you're doing a really good job. (Seriously, Brianna fat??) I liked what Rachel had to say about making the focus how to deal with people when they say untrue or hurtful things about us.
All this kind of this makes me so scared about sending Juliana to school. Can't I just keep her home forever and never let anyone say anything mean to her? I know, I know . . .

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