DD2 is 9, one of the youngest in her Year 5 class, and is an average height. She still fits into size 9-10 clothes, although the smaller stuff is becoming a bit of a squeeze. And for knickers, she finds it more comfortable to wear a size up, so 10-11. So I think she’s a pretty average size, especially compared to the other Caucasian girls in her class. Our school is very multicultural so she has a lot of Asian friends, and they do tend to be smaller.
She’s not a giant though, nor is she huge, that’s the point I’m trying to make.
But you can see, even at her prepubescent age, that she’s never going to be a beanpole. She’s going to be on the curvier side of things and is currently going through a chunky-ish stage. I’m not panicking; I did the same at her age. But my mother told me I was fat, put me on a strict diet, introduced me to calories and my weight yo-yoed ever since.
Clearly this wasn’t an example of fantastic parenting, so I have taken a different path. I talk to all the kids about the importance of some activity each day, about trying to work out if you are actually hungry before you eat, and try and nudge them towards fruit and veggies rather than crisps and biscuits.
Our main problem is not DD2; I will repeat I think she is very ‘normal’ when it comes to body size. Our problem is she endlessly compares herself to DD1, who is 19 months older than her sister. The two girls are one school year apart but DD1 is a completely different body shape. She is tall ( now 5ft 2) and skinny. She wears 9-10 sized knickers and can easily fit into the same clothes as DD2. She’s even been known to wear some of DD3’s clothes , sized 7-8) on occasion!
Poor DD2 feels inferior to her sister because she is bigger. Despite the fact that she has never heard me express dissatisfaction with my large frame, or talk about dieting, or express a wish to be thinner, she says she ‘knows’ that thinner is better.
And she gets very, very upset about it. She cries, she calls herself fat, she talks about her body in relation to other people’s bodies. It’s heartbreaking.
This morning the kids were playing MarioKarts on the WiiU.
‘Awwwww’, said DD2,’ I’d love to be Princess Peach.’
For those of you not familiar with this character, here she is.
‘Whats so good about Princess Peach?’, I asked. I like to challenge these sort of statements.
‘She’s so skinny. And blond. I wish I was blond’, my 9 year old daughter replied.
‘ Is that the best thing you can be?’ I wanted to know, but before DD2 could answer, DD1 chimed in.
‘Hitler thought so!’
What a statement! Of course then we had a discussion about Hitler and why his beliefs might not be the gold standard in thought processes, but isn’t it sad that in 2013 a 9 year old, bright, friendly, pretty girl who lives in a multicultural community, thinks that the ideal woman is a skinny cartoon character with blond hair, blue eyes and a pink dress?
I think it’s extremely depressing.