My Experience: Body shaming 7 year olds

On Saturdays, after Miss NHM’s swimming lesson, her and Mr NHM go out for a “Daddy Daughter” date, so they can have some quality time together and have a chat.

It was during their “Daddy daughter” date on the morning of the Royal Wedding when Miss NHM suddenly said to my husband: “Daddy, I need to be skinnier”. Just matter of fact, in the way that my daughter is.

It was so out of the blue and not related to what they were discussing and he was so shocked that he just asked her why she thought that.

She said “Because ***** says I’m too fat and I need to be skinnier”.

He continued to be so shocked that he just changed the subject. When he got home he asked to talk to me in private and told me what had happened. I was just as shocked. I had NOT anticipated dealing with things like this when our daughter has just turned 7 years old.

We agreed that we wouldn’t make a big thing about it but would try to re-iterate a positive body image.

However at dinner the next evening I made a flippant comment about it being really healthy and Miss NHM piped up with: “good, I’m glad it’s really healthy as I’m too fat and I need to be skinnier”.  I was so shocked again, but slightly more prepared, so I told her that she is definitely not fat and her body is just perfect as it is.

(Miss NHM already has challenges with food because of her coeliac disease and she is anything but fat.)

I emailed the head teacher on Monday who had asked me to keep them informed previously, as it’s not the first time that Miss NHM has had things like this happen to her.

The head teacher confirmed that body shaming at 7 years old isn’t as rare as you would think.

A few days later I spoke briefly to some trusted parents in the playground and a couple of the Mum’s of girls said that their 6 or 7 year old daughters had also said, at one time or another, that they were “fat”.

WOW. Just WOW. What is our society coming too?

I was very naive in thinking that because we don’t have a TV Miss NHM would be avoiding this type of thing. I hadn’t expected some of her peers to be projecting it instead!

Miss NHM hasn’t mentioned it again since that weekend but she’s being kept away from the other child in school because of their negative impact on Miss NHM anyway.

I’m sharing this not because I have any answers. I don’t have any, but in case any other Mum’s and Dad’s are freaking out about their young children saying things like this, you are not alone.

If anyone has any specific professional advice about what to do with this, then please do let me know.

I don’t know whether it’s right to not make a big thing about this with Miss NHM or whether we should be talking to her more about these things.

Why is parenting so hard at times?

Louise: I wrote this a few weeks ago and I’m not as worried about it anymore as Miss NHM hasn’t mentioned it since but it does make me a little concerned about the future and what that might bring. 

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