S.A. asks from Ely, MN on December 20, 2009
Teen's Diet, Weight Issue Need Input from Other Parents.
My daughters best friend is getting skinny. Like no body fat. She is 16, very active, generally healthy, smart, pretty ect. Some back ground.
In Oct of this year my daughter mentioned to me that her friend Bea is getting really skinny and she was worried about her. I explained that teen years body types change, her best friends whole family is thin, and petite. I also told her I would "check her out" and let my daughter know what I thought. I agreed with my daughter that she was getting thin, but I was not concerned with her weight, she looked "normal".
In Nov. I saw Bea's mother and I mentioned that Bea was looking thin. Her reply was, "Doesn't she look good. She has been dieting, last year someone called her big butt so she has been really watching what she eats." I responded with Ok I just wanted to make sure she has been eating, and staying healthy. My daughter was concerned.
At that time I told my daughter that Bea's mom was aware of her diet, and she was not concerned. We would just keep an eye on her.
Tonight my daughter mentioned again that Bea is skinnier then ever, last night they had a girls day and night, starting at 2 in the afternoon, went skiing, skating and made supper and then a movie. They made spaghitti, sauce, bread, and a salad. All Bea ate was a small salad and some sauce on the side. This was after a full day of outdoor activities. So my daughter was thinking maybe Bea just does not eat Carbs.
If my daughter says anything to Bea she blows it off with, I am working out alot, or I am not hungry. Also for lunch at school she is eating fruit, or a salad. So she is eating.
I am concerned with her weight, not overly but worried about it just the same. My daughter is "average" size, no bigger or smaller then anyone else, she wears a size 4-6 jean and "shares" her clothes with her friend but now the pants are getting really baggy on Bea's body, same with the shirts. (My daughters shirts were always baggy on her friend but now she drowns in them.)
So my question is do I say something to the mom again?
And what do I tell my daughter about her friend?
Thank you for any advice,
J.L. answers from Minneapolis on December 20, 2009
Your daughter's friend definitely sounds like she has an eating disorder. Unfortunately, either directly suggesting to the girl that she get help, or even talking to mom hoping she'll intercede, will only exacerbate the problem. Anorexia is considered a mental-illness that centers on self-image, control, and esteem. It is not easily treated.
Often sufferers thrive off of the negative attention, rather than realize they're in trouble. To further complicate things, mom is probably the worst person to go to in this case, to generate some action. It is very likely she also has an eating disorder. Especially after her "big-butt" comment. If you and everyone else think this girl was svelt to begin with, a mother eagerly endorsing a daugter dieting because of some snide remark is a bit concerning.
You should know that statistically, daughters of women who diet or have an eating disorder themselves can sometmes be the catalyst in their own daughters also developing the disorder. See these articles:
Your best bet in seeking help for them both is perhaps to arm yourself with information and resources and either anonymously send it to dad if he's in the picture, or talk privately with dad if you're comfortable enough to do so. Or better yet, contact the girls' school counselor under anonymity to avoid conflicts and see if she/he can meet with the girl and her mother.
You could also contact the "Emily Foundation" and see if a counselor can help you find the best way to help these women.
As for your daughter, there is a real chance this friend's habit could influence her and her behaviors. I'd talk with her about what's healthy and keep an eye on her for any warning signs of bulumia/anorexia. It can be hidden for a long time before it gets dangerously bad.
3 moms found this helpful
L.H. answers from Milwaukee on December 21, 2009
I'd be concerned. It sounds like your daughters friend may have an eating disorder. You can eat but still have a disorder. You need some meat on your bones to be able to be healthy. It does not sound like she is getting enough calories to give her body what it needs. After doing this for a while a person's internal organs can start to fail. Have your daughter talk to a counselor at school or get outside help for the girl if her mom does not want to see a problem.
1 mom found this helpful
S.W. answers from Minneapolis on December 21, 2009
JL did a great job of responding.
I suffered from Anorexia all through high school and into college, in the 70s when few knew about this issue. I thrived on people being concerned and telling me I was too thin, that just motivated me to continue my unhealthy habits. I would involve a school counselor or some other mental health practitioner if possible in this case. And yes, use it as an example to educate your daughter.
J.S. answers from Minneapolis on December 21, 2009
You've had some good responses. I just wanted to weigh in as well.
When I was a teen I did not have an eating disorder. I did have somewhat unhealthy body image and was super aware of what I ate, but I think that is pretty normal for a teen girl.
When we went on field trips or extra curricular activities where we would stop for fast food, I would order a salad or a sandwich but never fries or soda. I ate 3 healthy meals a day, but did not snack with my friends after school when I remember kids eating pretzels, or getting sandwiches - I'd wait till dinner and just eat at home. My mom was very health oriented and made everything from scratch - no snack foods, no soda, etc. My friends often questioned my on my eating decisions, and I too blew them off... but I always ate a good meal when I got home.
My point is, if she is eating 3 meals a day, maybe she does have a somewhat unhealthy view of how she looks, but didn't we all feel like that as teenagers? I think you are doing the best to just keep tabs on the situation. I continued to eat super healthy into college (eating salads in the dorm dining hall, etc.) and it served me well (no freshman 15!). I think that being aware of your consumption is ok, as long as it isn't an obsession. If she isn't vomiting, or starving herself, I'd just keep tabs on it and keep talking to your daughter and her friend about how important it is to eat healthy food.
Good luck to you and your daughter!
S.K. answers from Minneapolis on December 20, 2009
It does sound like your daughter's friend has an eating disorder and like the other poster said ... it is a mental condition that needs serious intervention. Her mother sounds like a nut case so don't approach her again... if you/your daughter get seriously concerned about her weight perhaps your daughter could talk to a school councilor maybe they could then talk to the friend??
N.C. answers from Duluth on December 21, 2009
You could have another talk with Bea's mother; you could encourage your daughter to continue letting Bea know she is concerned; you could talk to Bea and explain why you and your daughter are so concerned; or, you could adopt Bea and fatten her up. It is good that you are concerned about Bea but you cannot "take charge" of anyone else's life.
JL has a more positive response, and some good links for you to check out.
C.D. answers from La Crosse on December 25, 2009
I think you've done all that you actually can do to help this girl. If her own parents are not concerned, then I do not see how you and your daughter could intervene without offending them. Your daughter could talk to her guidance counselor about her friend and ask for the conversation to be totally confidential...aside from that, I don't know what else you could do. The mother sounds like a goof if she is going to say her daughter looks "good" when, from your description of the kid, it actually sounds like she's purposely starving herself and the mom is approving of this!
K.H. answers from Minneapolis on December 21, 2009
wow theres all kinds of red flags goin on here..i would chat with the girls mom once again..my daughter had a friend like that...was pretty scarey..on the brite side-it made my daughter realize that her wieght was never an issue..name calling can be really devastating-but it sounds like her mom is in total denial..someones gotta step up to the plate before this child dies of starvation....