What do we say as mothers, when our daughters say: “I look fat!”

The F-word, I am calling it now. The dreaded F-word. Even if you have trained yourself to never ever utter those words in front of your longsuffering boyfriend or husband, or are still stuck in that place of discharging your anxiety and expecting to be reassured when they say back, (as they are trained, with an inward roll of their eyes: “Of course, you don’t look fat!”, when your daughter first utters those words, you will be at a loss. “What do I say?!” “How can I reassure her how beautiful she is and make sure she doesn’t develop an eating disorder?!” Anything you think to say feels like a trap. Reassurance feels like a temporary balm, just like when your husband in the rote way he may have developed by now says back: “Of course you don’t look fat, baby!” (Or, in the film, The Ya-Ya Sisterhood, the daughter says back to her Mom: “If anything, you look a bit too thin!” We can laugh about it amongst ourselves, but when our daughters start saying this, we really can be at a complete loss.
My tip: It is pure anxiety, and self-consciousness and some kids, like adults, are more self-conscious earlier on, and more anxious than others. Find a way to limit the comment, don’t fall into the trap of responding in any way, and see if you can target what they seem to be nervous about. Sometimes you just have to limit it, keep them moving forward. Don’t let them get stuck. That is how you will help them learn to deal with anxiety and not get into the trap. Of course, sometimes you also get sucked in, after all, we are certainly not perfect! Like I always say: Perfect is “for the most part”. Try for a bit more, and you will be surprised at what can happen.

One Response to “What do we say as mothers, when our daughters say: “I look fat!””

  1. heidi on 07 Oct 2007 at 10:19 am

    I haven’t encountered this yet, but I worry about what I will respond like when I do; glad to have a way to hear more about it

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