How to Get Her to Believe She Is Not "Fat"???

Updated on July 12, 2011
C.S. asks from Crescent City, CA
15 answers

Oh it finally happened. I dreaded it all year and never thought it would come from someone in the family, but I found out today that my daughter's cousins think she is fat!!! Now, they weren't teasing her about it and it wasn't in a mean way, but now she is crushed and talking about how she is fat and she doesn't like her belly and she wants to be skinny like, "Cousin"...I am devastated. She didn't even tell me until today (it happened a couple weeks ago). She said that she thought she is that "word" that I won't let her say; I told her she could say it now and she said FAT!!!
So, here is the deal,
1. My daughter was standing around the cousins and she asks who is fat? The two other one's pointed at her!!! Then she wanted to wear one of their bathing suits and it didn't fit, the cousin said she was too big for it (I think that was appropriate to say, but my daughter took it negatively).
2. My daughter is overweight for her age. She is strong as an ox, very active, beautiful, smart as heck, and very caring. At the urging of our pediatrician, we are working with her daughter this summer to try and curb her weight gain for health reasons, not looks. I didn't want her to ever think less of herself because of her size (especially at age 6!).
Here is what we told her:
She is not fat! She is beautiful. She is healthy and working on getting healthier. All that she has to worry about as a kid is making healthy choices. I asked her if she thought myself and all her auntie’s are beautiful and she said yes, then I pointed out how we are all different (some short/tall, some thinner than others, but ALL beautiful). We talked about how the word FAT is a mean work and that it is used to make someone feel bad about themselves.
After everything that we (hubby and I) said to her, she just responded “well I still don’t like my belly. Its huge and I want to be skinny cause its better!”
I don’t know how to help her???? I myself am stressed and struggling to be “thin” most people think I am crazy for that as I already am, but there is always that last 5 lbs…so how do I be there for her??? The entire world thinks thin is best, how to I convince her otherwise???

I changed my profile picture to one of her so you all can see what a gorgeous little girl she is.

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So What Happened?

Thank you all! Some of the responses really made me think. I want to disagree with some at first, but I think overall, i need to reflect on all the responses and take it from there.

I especially liked the ideas about skinny not being healthy either (in some cases). I should get some pictures of different sized people some "fat" and unhealthy, some "skinny" and unhealthy and everyone in between.

We have been working with the doctor on getting her healthier and it is working. We are checking her hormone levels and have tested for diabetes, thyroid, and everything in between, she just carries the gene from family...she will have to work at it and so will I.

Thank you so much Cheerful M!!! I think you gave me the best advice (not that any of the advice was bad), but I really think helping her focus on what she does like is the next step. We already eat healthy and exercise, I keep my insecurities to myself (don’t obsess about it openly around them), but maybe i should have a talk about how we all (including me) have some things that we love and dislike about ourselves. I really like this idea.

It’s funny because she also wears glasses now (hot pink ones) and she loves them. I was worried about her self esteem with them, but she said the other day that she likes the way she looks with glasses better than without. I think she is gorgeous either way, but I love that she rocks the glasses. She doesn't care what others think about that.

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answers from New York on

Part of the problem from my vantage point begins with you and husband not being honest with her. If the doctor has said that she needs to loose weight because she is overweight for her age the truth is that she is probably fat. That isn't or shouldn't be considered a negative thing. Get her active, change her diet to include more fresh fruits and veggies. If she is fit that is much better than being "fat". Everyone has a different body type. Some body types can hold more weight than others.

Loosing an extra 5 pounds isn't the same as being over weight. Her self esteem begins with how you see her and how honest you are with her about how she really is. True beauty comes out from with in but everyone looks at the packaging on the outside. A sad fact but a fact none-the-less.

She is only 6 years old so there is a limit to what she can understand. I would begin by apologising to her for not acknowledging that she is overweight but then not making such a big deal of it. find some other girls that have the same build as her and begin again working on her self esteem. Highlight her strengthes. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Play to her strong points. Get her involved in activities where she can shine or at least have many different kind of experiences. Character building is just as important as weight trimming.

10 moms found this helpful

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answers from Los Angeles on

Based on what you've written and said, She is fat. Your doctor said she's fat. Her cousins said she is fat. If you really want to help her the rest of her life, admit she is a little over weight and help her to loose the weight.

You and she could exercise together and work on your diets together. Establish reasonable weight goals and work on that. Be honest with yourself and with her. She will have many more choices and options open to her if she is thin (notice I didn't say skinny). The old saying is, "If you don't watch your figure, no one else will."

Loosing weight is hard. If it wasn't I'd already be thin.

Good luck to you and yours.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

You won't have much success convincing her that thin isn't better, when you think it is. If you are "always" trying to lose "that last 5 lbs" you are showing her that thin is better. Our actions do speak louder than words.

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answers from Detroit on

My daughter is also 6, and has always been big for her age. I also hate the word "fat" so much. It's so hurtful. She's been called fat a couple times at school already, and I was really upset. Her doctor has always said that we need to watch it and be careful, but that as long as she's eating well and staying active she should be fine.

I tell her that people come in all shapes and sizes, and that as long as you take care of yourself, there's absolutely nothing wrong with you. Everybody's different. It's so hard because most kids are super skinny, and the ones who aren't stand out. It isn't fair that most kids don't have to worry about it and can eat whatever they want, and the few who do have to worry about it are made to feel so bad about it. We talk about how some kids call people fat because they don't understand, or they heard their parents say it. A lot of people are very judgemental about weight, and it's really sad.

If you think that thin is best, it's going to be really hard to convince her otherwise. I'm very happy for you that you're so "thin," it must be nice, but maybe that's why you're having a hard time relating to her. I would just keep telling her that she's beautiful and keep helping her make healthy choices.

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answers from Philadelphia on

She is a cutie pie. I agree with the other moms. I would keep healthy snacks in the house. Have her drink lots of water. Watermelon slices, orange slices, grapes etc can all be put into baggies in the fridge. She can pull them out and have a nice cold snack. Yogurt with fruit and granola can be a neat layered treat. (you can even put a few mini choc chips in there) Smoothies are fun to make. Hope i helped a little :)

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answers from Cleveland on

I can eat whatever I want and not gain weight but my daughters seem to take after their father's side of the family so aren't "skinny" at all. I never say anything of course but emphasize being healthy. And I will use the word in conversation if it comes up to say that being fat is unhealthy - someone's heart has to work harder etc. But I know they likely will get to a point of noticing they put on weight easier than lots of kids and some kids are skinny etc. I plan to try to make sure they don't actually get fat bc that seems like a tough lifelong battle but given I'm so skinny, I figure I'll show them pictures of beautiful fuller figured women. ie: the bombshell on Modern Family. If your doctor is saying she's overweight, like some people have said, she likely is. Kids figure out that all the "you're beautiful" stuff from their parents doesnt mean all that much. So I would be supportive that's she beautiful but honest that she needs to lose some weight but say skinny isn't best either. And show her some beautiful actresses etc who aren't skinny. I feel like realistic w/ a child's body type is the best way to go. We'll see how it works for me. :) Mine are almost 7 and 5.5. I know it's a tough balance between not overemphasizing yet not letting weight get out of control.

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answers from Denver on

Unfortunatley the cousins' words are a sad reflection of our society. Yes, we are overweight as a country. But I think the focus needs to be on being healthy not thin. That would be my focus. Work with her on healthy choices and tell her (as you have) we are all built differently, but what matters is we take care of our bodies (no matter their shape). Encourage her active lifestyle and get her involved in cooking and learning healthy habits. Maybe revisit the family's habits to be sure everyone is doing the same and setting a good example. If she focuses on healthy - the rest will come. It's a tough message, just make sure you know she is loved and accepted and that health is what matters. Good luck to you!

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answers from Chicago on

Kids know the truth, so if she is overweight or she has baby fat and you tell her that she doesn't, well then she knows you're lying. That could be why she isn't responding to what you're saying.

Next time she says she doesn't like her belly, tell her that you understand because there are parts of your body that you wish were different too. This will help validate that what she's feeling is normal, fighting that feeling is just going to mix her up. Let her know that everyone has something about their bodies that they don't like. Then, ask her what she DOES like about her body. It might take a minute for her to find something, but let her find it. When she does, let her know you love that too. Then ask her what else she likes about her body. Keep asking until she becomes more C. about it.

The idea is that you let HER find what she likes about her body, instead of you telling her what you like. She has to realize that there are many things about her that are beautiful. It won't help if you tell her, only when she discovers it for herself.

It's probably more valuable for her to accept who she is, than for you to tell her that she isn't fat. And of course you can help her by getting her active and eating right. At age six it's up to you to help with her eating habits, she should not have to worry about anything but being a kid!

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answers from Youngstown on

Your daughter is beautiful! Seriously. I agree with another person on here saying it's baby fat and she will get taller and thinner. I would just only keep healthy food in the house. Healthy snacks too. I would portion control too. If she wants candy or icecream then go and buy an icecream cone or 1 candy bar so you don't have icecream in the freezer or lots of candy in the house. Incourage her to run around and play if she likes to sit around and play dolls or whatever. I think some kids just go through a chubby faze because your little girl is definatly not fat by any means. She is little and her feelings were hurt that's a shame. Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

She is beautiful. But both childhood obesity and unhealthy body image are MAJOR issues for girls as young as 6 (boys too but not as many and a little older according to the research). I think you emphasis on 'healthy' is good rather than 'pretty or skinny'. But I think the whole family needs to embark on a 'health plan' so she can be a healthy weight but not feel singled out. I would not try to make her feel good about having a belly - kids are not supposed to. I would work on making her feel good about being athletic, running fast, being strong, being smart, artistic, creative - all the things that TRULY should be more important than being skinny and pretty.

The factor that most predicts the age that girls become conscious of body image is how conscious of it the mother is. So I would work on NOT letting her see you worrying about being thin.

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answers from San Francisco on

At age six, I don't think you should make a big deal out of it.

If my kid said that to me, I'd say, "Well, I love that belly!" And give her a bunch of kisses on her belly. Then, when she said, "well I still don't like my belly," etc., I would say, "Lots of little kids have that. It will go away as you get older." I don't think you should try to tell her she's not fat, when apparently she is a little overweight, from what you say.

After that, I would focus on "being healthy." When the subject comes up, the focus should not be on "thin" or "fat," it should be about being healthy -- eating good food and getting exercise. And if you live that lifestyle,and model exercise and healthy eating, she should naturally lose her baby fat.

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answers from Denver on

She is a very pretty girl. If her eating habits are good and she is active you might want to take her to a specialist to get her hormones checked. I have a niece who's hormones have been off kilter since she was 2 she is now 7 and taller than her 9 year old brother, she acts like she is 12, she has b.o so she needs deoderant etc she is just maturing at a faster rate which is sad because she sees it too. she will have raging hormones where she will gain a ton of weight then she goes through periods where she slims down. but at the same time ive seen the girl eat and they could do quite a bit in the eating department. If you want to help her become the way she wants to be get rid of all junk food, stock the drawer with vegetables and she can eat those for snacks. dont tell her she cant eat etc but if its not available she cant eat it. it stinks that self images start at such a young age.

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answers from Chicago on

Your daughter is gorgeous! I'm so sorry you're stressed out about her weight. It must be heartbreaking for you.

I agree with the other moms that you should just focus on healthy foods and keeping her active doing fun activities. She won't even be aware of the changes going on with her body. At least she is only six years old. You've got plenty of time to instill good eating and physical activity habits in her. Good luck to you!

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answers from Los Angeles on

She is gorgeous!

I guess if she were mine I would try to stress that it is just 'baby fat' and that she will continue to grow and change and that she won't look like she does now forever?! And maybe that we all look different and that it is a GOOD thing!

Knowing myself as I do, I would probably go the route of saying something along the lines of "what? You think you are fat? That is just silly! You are absolutely perfect!!!!".

I hope you get her to understand that she is perfect just the way she is!

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answers from Dayton on

Ooh! She is precious!!!
Just had to tell ya'!

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