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, answeredThroughout 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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  1. Hello I read your article and had to respond. I was on pinterest when I came across the headline have you told your daughter she’s fat today and it Drew me in because it enraged me. This story hits close to home for me becuz as a child my father has and still does on occasion call me Fat our say I need to lose weight as A child hearing this at a young age it has definitely altered my views about myself i’m 5’1 22 years old and I am overweight but as a teenager I was flat stomached and overly self concious I would call myself fat almost on a daily basis and I never wore clothing I thought would bring attention to myself… As an adult now I look back on pictures of myself and think how did I ever think I was fat or ugly becuz I wasn’t now I look at working out as a punishment I have depression a lack of self worth and not to mention am eating disorder and self image issue I believe no father should say the things mine did becuz it
    ultimately kills the innocent girl inside every girl should feel beautiful

    • Hi Steph,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to write to me. And yes, I felt so angry too when my daughter told me this… and ultimately very sad… and it’s why I decided to write the article, because I know that this little girl’s issue is way too common.

      I am sorry about the issues you have today as a result of your father’s hurtful words. It is amazing how much power parents have over their children, how every action they take and every word they say or don’t, can ultimately affect the way their kids turn out. Being a parent is such a massive responsibility and the most important job of all. We all make mistakes, but crushing that happy spirit in your child is more than an accident. It is intentionally cruel.

      I hope that you seek out some help for your distorted self image problems. I think you should keep pictures of you as a little girl/teenager nearby so you can be reminded on a daily basis that this girl is still you…right now. Just like you did not believe you were beautiful then …don’t wait another 10 years to look back at the 22 year old you and see how beautiful you were then too!

      Remember, that the best way to get back at your father (and make it up to that beautiful young teenage girl) -is to be confident, happy and live a fantastic life! You (and her) both deserve it!

      Take care.

  2. Hi Miss Cadieux,
    I am a grade ten student and couldn’t agree more with what you said in your article. Firstly it completely shocks me that a father would ever say this to his ten year old daughter, I believe childhood should be about confidence in one’s self and enjoying everyday without the worries and stress adults may have. I also think that what is put out there by the media on ‘beauty’ and the ‘perfect body’ is a major problem in today’s society as girls and women look up to models who have been photoshopped or have had plastic surgery and I do not believe any of that is true beauty.
    Thank you for the article you wrote, it has made me think a lot on today’s society and its beliefs.

    • Hi India,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to write to me and I could not agree more with what you wrote. I am happy to hear that you have a good sense of self worth and have a realistic grasp on what true beauty is!
      No girl or women, should be made to feel like something is wrong with their appearance but especially not by a parent to their young child!
      Take care,

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