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The Pressure To Be Thin Is Starting Sooner

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Growing up, I remember seeing girls at the local swimming club and wondering why I didn't look like them. I never had a big weight problem (just a stubborn belly that has carried through to my adulthood), but my mom was a constant dieter and there were others around me who worried about what they were eating and how much they weighed. That was at a time when "normal" did not mean you had to be stick-thin, and there wasn't the airbrushing and Photoshopping of magazine covers like you see today. Some of those feelings about my body have continued through my life, so I can't imagine what that pressure is like for young girls these days. New research comparing then and now provides some interesting insights.

In 1986, research from the University of California at San Francisco showed that 80% of fourth-grade girls were dieting. Fast forward to today, and many of these young dieters have become adults who continue to worry about their weight. This was during the era of Diet Coke and Jane Fonda, which now seem innocent compared to the images young girls see now. Anyone can do an Internet search and find pro-anorexia websites. Open the pages of a magazine, and you'll find celebrities and models who are not a healthy size, but rather are dangerously thin (or airbrushed to look that way).

According to new research from the Journal of Psychosocial Nursing, children as young as age five are beginning to show signs of distorted body images and dieting. Dieting in this age group is dangerous because it can stunt a child's growth and brain development. Additional research from Harris Interactive Surveys found that between 2000 and 2006, the percentage of girls who believe that they must be thin to be popular rose from 48% to 60%.

I work hard to surround my daughter with positive messages about her body, even though she's not yet 3. When my mom made a comment once that she had a "big belly", I told her never to say that in front of my daughter again. She meant nothing by it, and thought my daughter was too young to even know what my mom was talking about. But I think kids are more perceptive than we realize. So even though I won't be able to control all of the messages my daughter sees in the media, or what her friends talk about in the school cafeteria, I can provide a great example at home. And right now it's by telling her she has my favorite belly in the whole wide world (which is 100% true.)

What do you think?

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MUSICNUT 5/28/2020
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
PATRICIAANN46 11/8/2019
Thank You for a great article...……………….Very well said. Report
Pressure was bad in my generation. Remember Twiggy? Report
I believe the reason our children are carrying too much weight has more to do with the belief of the parents rather than the masses. Too many mixed signals. The evidence is in the comment section. Report
You know, if we could put our kids in a bubble and protect them from hurtful experiences, we surely would. **SIGH** My DD (who is absolutely proportioned!) went through so much bullying about not only her weight but her ethnic background. Middle School girls can be so utterly, incomprehensibly mean. She is now 23, beautiful, proportioned and with lots of encouragement growing up, despite the bullying, has a great sense of self-esteem and body image. I am glad of that.

I am glad I grew up in the era I did. Things were a lot simpler. Trouble free?? No, but so much simpler. Report
So sad... being happy with ones self is so important and it certainly starts at a very young age. Report
My sister recently showed me a Landsend catalogue where all the lower legs of models advertising Capri pants had been air brushed to be overly thin. I'm fact, one model's legs were only the width of her leg bone! Scary what society expects from girls/women. Report
I think you were very wise for correcting your Mother. Little comments like that in the future could really harm your daughter. My daughter still remembers my Mother asking her..."Do you really think you need that cookie?" My DD was a little overweight at the time but her weight certainly didn't warrant that kind of comment. Children should be treated with the same respect as anyone else. Kudos to you for nipping that one in the bud. Report
wow pro-anorexia sites, i had no idea those existed! had to google it and see ... very disturbing, found one on healthy tips for staying anorexic ugg... Report
I am dealing with it with my 5 year old. She sees her dad and I trying to lose weight and get into shape so she says she is fat. She has weighed around 40 pounds for 2 or so years. We tell her all the time that she is skinny and actually she needs to put meat on her bones to be healthier. There are some days that she still tells us she needs to lose weight. I end up blaming myself wondering what I have done to make her think this way. I want her to be comfortable in her own skin. The way god made her. Be healthy. Report
I definitely agree. Children are way more perceptive than we give them credit for, and therefore, incredibly vulnerable to what we say and how we act! I went to a very small high school, and while I was technically overweight, I looked like it because a good 25% of the girls in my school (of about oh... 250 total) had an eating disorder... an OBVIOUS eating disorder. Many of them, still do today.

My mom was an on again off again dieter and exerciser as well. While she didn't do it maliciously, she would make comments about my weight that weighed heavy on me--especially because there were kids in my school who openly called me fat and ugly to my face. I have forgiven them and gotten over it, but some of those scars are deep and have continued into my adulthood as an extreme self-consciousness. I am finally on the road to having a healthy body with the help of SP... and because I am doing it RIGHT and on my OWN terms, I am also on the road to fully healing those wounds left long ago!!! Report
I can relate to this. All my life I was know as the fat sister & my younger sister was the thin one. When we look back at photos, she was wearing clothes at age three that I wore at five. I constantly dieted and had a distorted image of my self. Looking back at old photos I wonder what my family and friends were thinking because I was the size I was supposed to be for my body type. Now. when I have 85 lbs. to lose, people tell me I'm not too big. I can hardly wait until I am as fat as I was back then! Report
Sometimes I think that when girls hear their friends saying I'm so fat etc, they start to say it too, just to fit in.

Ever seen Mean Girls-where all the girls stand in front of the mirror and complain about something and then look to Cady (is that her name? I forget) to say something negative about herself? Society is like that for girls. THey say mean things about themselves to fit in-and we all know if you keep saying something enough, you'll eventually believe it.... Report
You have to be careful and kind about what you say to everyone, but especially children. Weight has been on my mind ever since I was a child. Report
I so agree that you have to be careful about what you children hear, regardless of their age. I have also realized that once my girls have been exposed to negative comments about bodies, it doesn't go away easily.

From an early stage, I talked to my family, and did not allow body image conversations to take place... to the point of pointedly asking family members to change topics, even if it meant interrupting them....

But... the problem came for a source I did not expect. My in-laws. They are both healthy, and do spend lots of time taking care of them selves. I've had issues losing the baby weight, and have worked on it for a long time... My hubby... well.. he loves fast food, and isn't exercising enough.. but he is a grown man, and will make is own decisions. My MIL has been talking to my girls about how fat I am, and how fat their dad is. Now, I have two girls who are always asking if they are fat, and worring that anything they eat might make them fat.

They are 8 and 5, and both are on the under-weight side of the charts for their hights. Not looking foward to the next time I see my in-laws, and have a conversation with them about this. (I don't have a good relationship with them in the first place) Report
All growing up and to this very day my Mother talks about and struggles with her weight. To be completely honest it's still hard to hear about it after all of these years. Funny, she is actually the one who turned me on to this website.

For some reason, even though we are surrounded by all of this media telling us to be thin I have always felt beautiful no matter what weight I was at. I have been at my highest 160lbs and at my lowest 108lbs. I mean of course I want to lose a few pounds here and there, just like I do now and that's why I joined this site BUT again I've always felt beautiful.

Somebody who has always been a great inspiration for me is Kate Winslet. I'm super glad she took a stand and told everybody how she was upset about being airbrushed in magazines. I think she is completely beautiful and she always is a great inspiration for me. Report
I worry because I try to get my daughter to eat healthier and get exercise but I worry that if I make too much of an impression that she will take it to extremes.

Were it up to her fruit and vegetables would never pass her lips. She'd prefer to live on chicken nuggets, cheeseburgers, macaroni and cheese, candy and soda. When she was a toddler she ate everything we offered her, she loved all the healthy foods we gave her; as soon as she tasted junk food she lost all interest in anything healthy.

On one hand we want her to know that she needs to eat better to stay healthy but on the other hand we worry that telling her how bad it is to overeat junk foods will put her on the road to an eating disorder. Report
We brought up our grand daughter for 9 years and hoped we had done a good job. But then her mother comes along (who is like a rake) and pushes her influence upon her it became very difficult. We can only hope that our grand daughter can work out for herself that being to thin is as bad as being to fat.. Report
I'm joining this 'debate' from London, UK. I have two little girls - 18 months apart. The youngest is a little shorter than the oldest, but is catching up to her sister pretty quickly. The youngest is going to have a fantastic athletic build (she's already pretty strong and very energetic - and has lovely defined arms, abs and legs). The oldest one has a slimmer frame - whilst she is also beautiful, she will not have the 'powerhouse' look of her younger sister. The oldest one always compares herself to her younger sister asking why they look so different, and if she will eventually grow from being slim to be fat - say says there are some girls at her school (co-ed) who say that they don't want to ever get fat (like their mothers, or other female family members). I'm not overly concerned at how my children are growing, but there is clearly growing pressure (peer-pressure) for them to conform to general standards/ideas. My youngest daughter - she totally ignores all those around her, and is happy to simply show her strength: 'look mummy, can you see my muscles'!!!

I hope and pray that both my children - and others of course, can keep their own identities and not be forced to conform to other people's expectations on how they should look.

Lord knows, I love my children dearly, and what them to grow up happy, healthy and with independent minds and attitudes to life.

Here's hoping for a better world!!! Report
Awe, I have 2 little girls and I try to praise them as much as I can. But I too do the "she's so fat" (affectionately) to my little toddler. I didn't notice how often until my 4 year old would say, "this is my little sister, she's so fat." I should stop pointing out her adorable little belly and thick legs, maybe she does know what I'm saying. I'm glad I read this article. Report
I believe my niece became bulimic because her family put such emphasis on appearance. She was NEVER overweight, not even chubby, but liked to eat. What really hurt was when I heard they told her she was going to grow up and be fat just like Aunt Carol (me). Report
Although the pressure to be thin is just as intense today, I think there are some things in the media that make it easier to define what a healthy body looks like. There is a much greater diversity of people and body types in the media giving a broader definition to what is beautiful (who thought 30 years ago that a big butt would be a GOOD thing?). There are also a lot more female professional athletes in the media that provide a role model for a healthy, athletic type figure versus the stick-thin, airbrushed models who used to be the only form of celebrity female in the media. So, even though the pressure to be thin is still there we now have more tools as parents to point to examples of a healthy body image to teach our children the difference between reality and reality TV. Report
My step daughter is 11, and is naturally thin and tall. She is going to be one of those women that you look at and are instantly envious of.

However, I have caught her saying her butt looks fat, or whatever. I told her that I never, ever want to hear her call herself fat. Ever. I think she knows that she isn't, but I guess she hears her friends making comments, and I guess it makes her want to say it too, I don't know. Or maybe she's just looking for attention, and wants people to reaffirm that she isn't.

I try very hard to be a good role model for her by eating healthy the majority of the time, and exercising consistently, but not to excess. She is a very picky eater, however, so she doesn't like most vegetables, or whole grain items. It drives me nuts!

Anyway, I never, ever belittle my own body in front of her either. Now what her mother does, I don't know, but I try to do my share.

It must be very hard on the girls these days, I'm glad I'm over that stage. Report
I am a teacher and have seen many of my students struggle with body image and weight... I searched for a curriculum that could teach healthy body image that I would be able to use in my guidance classes and found one called "Healthy Body Image" written by Kathy J Kater . It is published in the United States by the National Eating Disorders Association. You could also go to www.NationalEatingDisorders.org The curriculum is great and my students are learning a lot about how to love themselves as they are.
Wow, this is a great blog. I am amazed at all the comments that ring so true for me. I was thin until puberty, and when I look back at pictures of me through college, and I was maybe 10 pounds overweight, I remember that I'd always thought of myself as a fat blob. When I was 12, my mother commented about "how big [my] thighs are getting," and since then I've always felt they were HUGE.

I have three daughters and one son. My biological daughter has the same issue with her weight that I did at her age. My stepson is very, very active and he eats healthily. One stepdaughter is extremely thin, but could live on mac&cheese and hotdogs if I let her. My other stepdaughter is overweight by about 20 pounds. She gained 15 pounds at camp this summer where she had bug juice instead of milk every day, plus snacks after lunch and dinner from the camp store that included chips and candy (generally, I don't keep chips, candy, or soda in the house, because I am prone to eating it all in one day!). She is 14, and her younger sister is 12. My daughter is 18. I have told ALL of the kids, when they asked about dieting (and yes, they have asked as young as 8 years old!), that no one should "diet" to try and lose weight until they've stopped growing (about age 16 for girls, about age 20 for boys). I say that it's important to EAT HEALTHY, and to get lots of exercise by doing fun things. It's not until the past 2 years that their dad and I have taken our own health seriously enough to exercise regularly and lose weight by eating healthy. We both struggle with temptation (we love chips and candy), so it's hard to be a good role model for the kids. We have done hiking, biking, swimming, and kayaking this summer that have all included taking the kids with us.

But I think we do fight against the kids' peer pressure, too. I get upset when my 14-year-old skips breakfast. I don't like it when my 18-year-old only has popcorn for dinner. I try to have family dinners 3-4 times a week, between soccer practices, play rehearsals, and doctor's appointments; it's not always easy. But I try. And even if the kids aren't particularly hungry, I always have them sit at the table with us.

I wish for my kids to make good choices most of the time. But I can't help but think that I've probably influenced them in unhelpful ways about weight loss, because of my own issues. I am pretty hard on myself, and I'm sure they've heard me complaining about my lack of willpower when it comes to certain foods. Feeling guilty about my influence on them is prevalent in my mind.

I did hear my stepson (age 12) say to his father the other day, "you know, since we've been eating healthier, chips taste too salty to me." I thought that was interesting! Report
When they did the research in 1986, did they define "diet"? My sister and her husband are watching what my niece eats, and limiting sweets and snacks, but she's not on a "diet". Report
"Surveys found that between 2000 and 2006, the percentage of girls who believe that they must be thin to be popular rose from 48% to 60%."

Unfortunately this is true - not just a misguided belief. You DO have to be thin to be popular, or you are the "fat friend". Even as adults - go ahead take a deep look around... men get to be valued for their minds, women their youth and beauty... and this isn't just Hollywood either. LIFE IS a popularity contest.

I'm not really happy about it, I don't know how it happened either. Maybe it started as we were younger and wanted the toy someone else had? Because to WANT what someone else has, whether it be looks, money, a house, a car, a partner, whatever... it is something... as a society we are taught to never be happy with what we have, we must have bigger and better, and "there is no such thing as being too thin or too rich" is a motto I recall.

So we can do a lot of talking, about how this notion is wrong - but it is hard to deny it - when this is all around us. All the positive self talk isn't going to change others. That is why people find something they are good at... okay, if I'm not the pretty girl, I'll be the smart girl, I'll be the sporty athletic type, I'll get involved in my community/church and be the good girl, etc. We all seem to strive to identify ourselves as SOMETHING if we accept that we aren't the other identifier. Well to some people being smart/good/athletic aren't enough because society continues to idolize being beautiful, and in the US, that means THIN. Even not so pretty people, get on covers of magazines because they are thin - and not beautiful. Sorry to anyone that thinks Kate Moss is beautiful, but I'd strongly disagree. Put 20 pounds on her and you think she'd get a cover anywhere? Or has anyone listened to a word that comes out of Megan Fox's mouth. She is CLEARLY not anything but a pretty face, and yet people WANT to be her. It is sad - and unfortunately, the result of a media saturated society. Report
And then on the flip side, there are sooo many obese children....girls and boys!
I'm a teacher in an elem school setting and the lunches are ridiculous...lunchables....high sodium content. snickers for breakfast....parents carrying mcdonalds for them to have lunch...etc. Report
I wonder if that poor body image will continue...most of the people in our country are now over weight or obese. That's going to be the new norm if we don't rein in the food industry and get our government agencies interested in protecting our children. Most importantly: We need to not give in to pressure from our children to buy and consume poor quality food and beverages. Report
I work with kids ages K-8 in an after school program. I was SHOCKED at the amount of diet/weight talk I have overheard around the lunch tables. Kids taking out 100 calorie snacks saying "my mom only buys these snacks because then i won't get fat" A group of 6th grade girls eating a bag of popcorn and saying "did you know popcorn is the best diet snack?" I was a huge wake up call for sure.... Report
My mom put a lot of pressure on me to be thin. It created a very poor body image that I battle even today. I don't think she'd ever admit it because she does it even today. Both my brother and I struggle with eating disorders. So it is hard for boys and girls. Don't think you can say whatever just because you have boys. They have a ton of pressure on them too.
I hope I'm not like my mom was with my kids. Report
I have a 5 year old daughter and I find myself watching what she is eating and trying to keep her active to insure that she does not have to worry about being a heavy teenager. Report
Body image problems can also affect children who are thin. I was skinny until the year before I hit puberty. At 10 years old I was 5 feet tall and weighed 70 pounds. I wasn't trying to be thin; I was just that weight. I overheard my mother tell another mother that she wouldn't let me wear sun dresses because she was embarrassed by the way my shoulder blades stuck out; she was afraid the other mothers would think she didn't feed me enough. (She never said anything directly to me either when I was thin or when I gained weight.)

Kids do overhear these things and they accept them as true at a deeply psychological level. A comment like this or the ones about being too fat, frighten a child's unconscious mind into thinking that they won't be loved and therefore cared for unless they meet their parent's ideal of them. Within a year of hearing this, I was 30 pounds overweight. Sure, a part of that may have been burgeoning hormones but at least part was a child's fear of rejection by someone who provides their safety.

Of course, after I got overweight the other children made cruel remarks but the more important person to appease was my mother whom I needed. Report
It's tough especially for girls. I have 3 kids, two are girls. My 7th grader has always stressed about her weight since about 4th grade. She started eating moreand got chubby. Unfortunatly for her nearly all her freinds were super thin. She's built more like my side of the family, and will always have to watch her weight. Jr high has been rough.
By cutting portions, and being a little more physically active
at the end of 6th grade she began losing weight. I've tried to
help her to eat healthier, and she's a member of our gym.
She's always so aware of her clothes helping her to look thin.
Appearance is sooo important to her, and her freinds. My
high school aged daughter luckily has never worried too much. She's never been heavy, or had to worry about it, but she is aware. She's more worried about hair, and makeup
looking good. Even my son though is aware of weight, thanks
to my daughters . He's only 9 , by asked me once is he was getting fat because he's sisters said he was getting a big
belly. And as women lots of us make comments about not
liking this, or that body part, and not wanting to be in a
bathing suit. I know I have. I can only try to help my family be
healthy, and smarter choices. And hopefully not to stress too
much, and always try to find some positive in themselves. Report
I think it doesn't always matter what size kids are. They sometimes grow out of it, anyways. Report
I was a thin child. In fact, I was thin until I started in peri-menopause. There was always a lot of pressure to be thin. Some of it was subtle, but it was still there. I starved myself ... binge on things that I enjoyed ... then deprive myself of calories again. Not a healthy way to treat your body. I Report
Wow, I just read all the replies and am glad I raised a son! Young girls have been pressured to be thin for as long as I can remember! I don't think it's any harder now than before, but I do agree that it does start way earlier. My granddaughter is overweight and is also very tall for her age. She was over 10 pounds when she was born and is built like one of her aunts. I'm hoping she will grow out of this before she starts hearing nasty comments from other kids. She just started kindergarten this year, so she doesn't really know she is overweight yet, being only 5. She is active, takes dance classes and is generally a happy child. I just don't want to see her hurt with comments from other kids this soon in her life. We, as parents, grandparents and everyone else, need to make sure these kids know they are valued for more than just being thin! Report
Kids SHOULD be concerned now days since there is a HUGE problem with kids being FAT. Parents need to get them OUTSIDE to play rather than sitting them in front of a TV or PC so they are "quiet" and not a bother! We rode bikes and played games in the 50's when I was a kid and we were OUTSIDE most of the time when we were home. We played on the large front porch or down in the basement if it was cold or raining. Kids NEED to exercise. I have 5 children and NONE of them are fat. Report
I have an 11 year-old niece who just started middle school and she is worrying about her weight -- she has the PERFECT body, but since people around her are talking about weight loss, she now worries that she is eating too much. Her friends are talking about how fat they are (and I bet half of them don't even have a weight problem), her mom and sister are always talking about losing weight... her aunt (ME!) is always talking about losing weight... She probably sees the people she loves in life as normal, but since they are talking about losing weight, then she must too.

I really hope that I will have my weight under control by the time I have a child, so they will never see me diet and worry about my body, but if I have been like this for 29 years of my life, I can't see me changing all of the sudden. We just need to be aware of what we are saying in front of kids and try to lead them to a healthy lfiestyle instead of yoyo diets and disorted body images (if you think you look good, make sure your child hears that and let them know its okay to be proud of your body!) Report
My daughter is now 15, and she is at a healthy weight. Ever since she was a baby, I've been telling her that she is just right the way she is. I don't bring it up, but I respond if she brings it up. She just started worrying a little about her weight this past year, because she realizes that she is not as thin as some of the girls at school. (I suggested she drink more water and limit cookies.) Fortunately, she has never been one to worry too much about looks and fashions. She has always taken more pride in her soccer and guitar skills than in her looks, although she is actually pretty too. More importantly, she is kind to others, and she reaches out to those who are struggling, and to younger children. I'm quite proud of her, although I don't take credit for all of the good in her. She has her bad moments too, usually at home, and we have our struggles. I am just hoping I have the strength for anything that her teenage years may yet have in store. Report
I have three kids in college....and they are all starting to gain weight. I have talked with them about the importance of making healthy choices and staying active. They were athletes in high school and could burn off everything they ate. College has been different...plus I'm sure they drink too much beer and eat junk food. Two of them joined this site and followed it for a short time, but didn't stick with it. I'm hoping it at least made them realize that it is important to make healthy choices. Beer and pizza are not going to make you fit, happy, healthy or prepare your body for fighting off infections. Hopefully they will find their way. Report
When I was younger, around 5-8, I constantly had relatives saying I look like a burger and laughs at me, and my mom constantly calls me a pig, or piglet (when she has a favor to ask), and oh boy do I hate that. Many adults think it's out of affection that they call me little names like this, but then they didn't realise it makes me hate how I look. My mom calls me "Piggy!" infront of my classmates, and I'll feel so embarssed. I hate socialising since I was 5 years old. I don't like strangers at all, and strangers in my case is anyone not included in my family of 5. And I hate talking, to anyone, because I often think I'll make a fool out of myself. Now I became an introvert, and it's a large hindrance to my life.

My mom still calls me pig though, now sometimes "YOU DEAD PIG!!" in Chinese if she's pissed, ha-ha! But I'm no longer affected by the name calling, am already used to it. But still, I'm trying very hard to be more open to new people I meet or simply the strangers who I have blood relation with. Report
I agree that society may be encouraging the trends to start at an earlier age. However, my personal experience as a young girl in the 70's, was that my mother was trying to make me into her ideal - regardless of what those around her thought. I remember constantly being on diets - even writing in my journal about it. One entry said, "I'm on another diet. Mom is really excited that this might help." Or something like that. I found that journal later in life and was appalled! I was 12, and had been on many diets before that one. Sadly, looking back at photos of me throughout my childhood, I was never fat. I wasn't even overweight. I was an active tom-boy-type child. My mom wanted me to be a ballerina. It sucks that her hopes and wants for me translated into actions that were so inappropriate.

It took me a lot of years to start standing up for myself. I remember when I was about 25. My sister had her first baby. We took a family trip to a lake, and had dressed the baby in this darling little bikini. We were all oohing and aahing over how cute she was. My mom said (in that sweet, cute voice that people use to talk to babies), "It looks like we're going to have to put you on a little baby diet."

I am not kidding, people. Sick!

I pulled her aside and told her how inappropriate that was and that she should never say things like that. She was somehow shocked! It really opened my eyes as to how obsessed she was about weight. I had grown up believing it to be my fault. I had allowed her to pressure me into patterns that were unhealthy. They got worse, by the way, before they would get better.

Society definitely plays a role... a huge role! But sometimes it is just one person who can have the most detrimental effect.

Good luck to those of you who have daughters. I wish you much success in teaching and inspiring healthy lifestyle habits and body images!!! Report
part of the trouble today is our schools are making weight an issue for our children. I know with my children, they go to recess, maybe if all kids are behaving, once/twice a week... PE @ Our school, because it is so crowded, they play sports 1 group gets up runs /plays 10 mins. Then the next group goes...Nothing like when I was in school. And then they focus on the foods our children are eating. No more class parties with cupcakes. Class snacks have to be from a healthy nutritionist list. Our kids know this. My youngest in kindergarten was asking me at EVERY meal or snack time , "Mom is this healthy?" "Is this healthy?" "What about this?"... This she learned from school. because at that time I didn't worry about healthy eating, If it was good we ate it.
My daughter is the perfect size for her age... I do not believe this is from what she is eating as much as genetics. She is the same size I was at that age, and I grew up on coca cola and cheetos! But I do hope that I've promoted fitness into her life. Because I have always made a point to have them in some kind of sport or dance. Simply because I don't feel like they get enough throughout the day at school. And to me that's a shame.
On another note at least she started getting me thinking healthier, food wise. Guess i have the school to thank for that. But we'll see in a few years If she leans toward the anorexic side I'll blame the school because I feel they stress eating to our children way to much! That should be a parent discussion. Call me old fashion but children should be children and not worried about this stuff. And play should be a huge part of a childs day! Report
From all you've written I think you're doing a great job as a mom. :)

With me it started about there.... 4th grade... I was an overweight child starting at about 2nd grade. But I never really felt self conscious about it (small school, I was liked by everyone) till I mentioned around my mom that I liked this boy that was 2 years older than me. She said something like: Don't you want to try to watch your figure/lose some weight? I don't remember exactly how it was put, but I was so young 4th/5th don't remember, but that incicdent stuck w/ me!! I never forgot it... It was the first time that it was pointed out to me that I should "diet". uuuugggghhhhhh.... I just kept gaining though.... Report
I'm so sad that this is hitting girls so young. We went dress shopping for a wedding but stopped for lunch first and my 6 yr old grand daughter would not eat a thing, she made some comment about being FAT. The child is rail thin she is wearing a size 6 but could easily wear a 5 if it were not for the length. I think it stems from the girls at school whos moms DO focus on body image. I just think it is terrible that their children make others feel bad about themselves. Report
I have a five and a six year old one has asthmaand is of a thicker build now that she is on the steroids. The othe is 50 inches and 46lbs . They both talk about there bodies the stick thin 5 year old assumes that because she is "skinny " she is healthy while the other feels she is fat . I try to tell both of them that everybody has different body types and that your body stature does not make you healthy. I wish there was a cartoon or something that they could see because now they are in school it doesnt seem to sink in that skinny can be unhealthy. Report
This is not just true for girls. My 7 year old has asked me on several occasions whether he's too fat. He's actually very lean, being tall and skinny. He already stands 52 inches and weight 60 Lbs. Also, he is much more concerned about what he eats than I ever recall being at that age, or even in my teens. I think the media bombards these kids, be they girls or boys, with unhealthy images, then try and sell them sugary snacks masquerading as healthy. As parents we must provide them all the tools we can so they may grow up with a healthy attitude towards food and body image. Report
My daughter was 8 when she said she was getting fat. I told her that she is just the right size for her height, which she is. She is 9 now and petite, not skinny, but shorter and average to slim.

I don't say the word diet in our house, just say eating healthy and eating healthier and say that I am eating healthier and exercising to lose some weight to get healthier. Report
I have a nine year old granddaughter that keeps telling me she's getting fat. She a twig! I keep telling her as long as she's eating healthy she shouldn't worry about getting fat. She just smiles. Report
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