Skip to main content

Search
Growth and Development

How Can I Help My Healthy Daughter Realize She's Not Fat?

|

My daughter is at a completely healthy weight. But yesterday I heard her say, "I'm fat!" It broke my heart! Is this normal? Should I be worried about an eating disorder? And what can I say to help her feel better about her body?
- Amy

Every time kids open a magazine or watch a music video, they probably see "perfect" people — girls and women with stick-thin bodies, men with huge, perfectly-formed muscles, and none with so much as a blemish on their faces. Be aware of the messages these images are sending. It's important to make sure your daughter knows they're not reality — that many of these models eat poorly, or have a staff of makeup and hair artists, and that many of these pictures are doctored with computer airbrushing that removes all flaws.

And by all means, encourage your daughter to eat healthy. Let her know that it's natural for many preteen and adolescent girls to have a little extra fat — and that it's a healthy sign that her body is starting to develop and mature. Be sure to compliment her on her appearance — but also be sure to compliment her inner beauty, intelligence, actions and accomplishments, and her body's strength, coordination, grace, or athleticism. This way, you remind her that there's so much more to her than her appearance and help nurture a positive self-image.

If your daughter's concerns about her weight or her body start to interfere with her regular habits of eating and being active, talk to your doctor. Unbalanced fitness and nutrition habits — and poor self-image — can lead to eating disorders, which can hurt her health now and affect her long-term reproductive and bone health.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: July 2013

License

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995–2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.

Should your child see a doctor?

Find out by selecting your child’s symptom or health condition in the list below:

Spring 2014: Good Growing Newsletter

In This Issue

  • Cold Water Shock Can Quickly Cause Drowning
  • E-Cigs Are Addictive and Harmful
  • Bystanders Can Intervene to Stop Bullying

Download Spring 2014 (PDF)

Videos

Overcoming the Odds: A KING 5 TV Children's HealthLink Special 0:44:45Expand
12.30.13

In the spirit of the holidays, patients, parents and doctors share inspirational stories of healing and hope. From surviving heart failure and a near-death drowning to battling a flesh-eating disease, witness how the impossible became possible thanks to the care patients received at Seattle Children's Hospital.

Play Video
Miracle Season 2013 0:57:06Expand
12.11.13

Miracle Season, hosted by Steve Pool and Molly Shen, aired Dec. 8, 2013, on KOMO 4 TV. The annual holiday special celebrates the remarkable lives of Seattle Children's patients.

Play Video
Children’s Mental Health 0:00:30Expand
11.22.13

Mark Fadool, clinical director of mental health services at Odessa Brown Children's Clinic, provides early warning signs of mental health issues in kids and teens and urges us all to notice the signs and act early.

Play Video