Last week my daughter came home from school and told me about a friend of hers who asked her dad if he could take her to the hairdresser’s to get a new hairstyle. Dad agreed but only on the condition that she lose 10 to 15 pounds. Now, I should tell you that I know this little girl and she is 10 years old, beautiful, artistic, caring, shorter than my own daughter, weighs 87 pounds and is NOT FAT. But what if she was? What kind of parent puts that on their kid anyways? What is she supposed to do with this information? What does any child know about calories, diets and working out? She’s not supposed to know anything. This is (borderline?) child abuse. How about actually parenting?! Educate your child about health, food, the nutrients a growing body needs and why physical activity is important. How about making an appointment with the pediatrician to address your concerns or questions about your daughter’s well being and physical appearance rather than assuming she needs to cut back on food?
My daughter (as well as other friends) told her that she is not fat and that she should tell her mother, but she won’t because she is afraid her dad will get mad at her. Instead she went and spoke to her dad again the following day, asking him if he was serious about her needing to lose weight. He said yes. My daughter asked her what she planned on doing. She shrugged her shoulders and said she would do “sit-ups and stuff every day”.
I would be lying if my daughter never brought up the word ‘fat’ about herself. It started about a year ago. The nine- to 12-year-old range is when a young girl’s body starts changing (for those who don’t know it’s called puberty–duh!). They have to deal with a bunch of new stuff like their hips growing wider, wearing deodorant, bras and being taller than most boys their age. It’s an embarrassing and confusing time. Our daughters need confirmation that there is nothing wrong with them. “…you will find out that these changes are important for your health and they are a normal part of growing up. You will also gain weight during this time. This is normal…” – ChildrensHealthNetwork.org.
So, congratulations, dad! The first man in your daughter’s life. You are supposed to be a hero. To make your daughter feel beautiful and smart, worthy of anything and anyone so that she has those high standards when choosing people in her life, like boyfriends. Now the message is: “What’s the point of even having pretty hair if the rest of me doesn’t measure up? And I don’t… and it must be true because daddy said so.” PIG.
This is the kind of hurt that can never be undone. How does a 10-year-old lose weight with no help or guidance? Will this lead to her googling ‘weight loss’ on her ipod at bedtime? Will she learn to skip meals or become full-on bulimic? This summer, will she still get excited about putting on her bathing suit and giggle through the sprinkler or will she be too self-conscious to wear anything other than a baggy T-shirt? Ladies, let’s make sure we have this talk with our daughters, nieces, girlfriends and sisters…and of course let’s educate our men so that they don’t make the same mistake as this moron-dad!
Email me your thoughts: JulieLovesHome@gmail.com
Published January 22nd, 2014 / Vaudreuil Soulange Gazette
Published February 17th, 2014 / Chelsea Foundation
Interested on finding out more about tween girls and puberty? Here are some really helpful links:
Dr. OZ answers question: As a teen how can I tell if I’m gaining too much weight? / Mehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answered “Throughout your teen years, you’re likely to gain both height and weight rapidly. Sometimes that may be just fine. For example, girls will gain body fat in puberty, particularly in the hips. The best way to start figuring out if you’re gaining too much weight is to check the BMI Percentile Calculator for Child and Teen. This index, calculated from height and weight, takes into account what is normal for younger boys and girls. It’s not definitive, though, since everyone changes at different rates. If your BMI tells you that you may be overweight, a visit to your doctor can confirm it, and he or she may suggest a healthy weight loss program.”
Dr. Phil: How to raise your daughters’ self esteem
Children’s Physician Network: Puberty For Girls
The Daily Mail: Is it right to tell a child she’s fat?
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