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Stumped again

The Princess had her sports physical this morning as she starts cheer camp tomorrow morning (NOT at 6am, praise God!). My baby girl is a healthy child, or as our pediatrician calls her, Mary Poppins, since she’s practically perfect in every way. She dances 10 hours a week, give or take, plus cheer. She eats well. She has my and her dad’s metabolism as well. She’s gonna wreck me for saying this, but she has a gorgeous, trim, athletic body I would kill for. You know teenage girls…..

So you could have knocked me over with that proverbial feather when the pediatrician asked her if she thought she needed to lose weight, this girl who’s weight and BMI is well below that of peers her height, and she said yes, she thought she should be skinnier. What. The. Hell??!!!! The doctor firmly laid out, with all the charts and facts, why my girl is perfect just the way she is. I felt sick, utterly heartbroken. Good golly – the girl has a 24 inch waist, but she told me she has a weird belly that stick out. What. The. Hell.

The guilt poured over me. Did I make her this way by my own actions and attitude? I’ve tried oh so hard the last few years to be really careful what I say about my body, and any other body for that fact. We talk about being healthy, not about numbers and weight. I try desperately to keep my internal struggles with my weight to myself. That’s why I quit doing the 21 Day Fix – because she was very aware of what I was measuring, eating, not eating every single day. What have I done to my precious girl?

Or is this just every single teenage girl? I know I believed I was “fat” when I weighed all of 98 pounds at 16 years old. Is it genetic for teenage girls to compare their bodies to every other body around them, every other body they see? How do I help her see herself the way everyone else does? I’m at a loss here, friends. My heart is aching – I would save her from years of comparing and finding herself lacking in any way. I would save her from food issues. I would save her from having any negative self-speak.

Is this just normal? Are we to accept our daughters seeing someone entirely different in the mirror than we see? How do we turn the tide? How do I make her see herself the way I see her?

I did tell her on the way home she does NOT need to lose any weight at all, and there will be some serious conversations if she even tries. I’m terrified she will go through all I went through in high school and college, and even today. That thought near breaks me.

12 thoughts on “Stumped again

  1. I actually deal with this a lot with teens, both boys and girls, mostly with regards to the ‘issues’ that come from this years later. Cut it off at the pass. If she feels good, and gets plenty of exercise and is having FUN (a novel thought) then she is a prefectly healthy, happy teen. No need to create unneccessary anxiety.

    Also, almost every athlete featured in the ESPN magazine – body issue would be considered fat by standard health measurements.

    When it comes to teens and fitness, I say trust the Mom instinct.

  2. I really appreciate that your doctor brought this up. There is something called the female athlete triad (lack of period, osteoporosis and disordered eating) and it is very common among female athletes in sports like cheer, skating, gymnastics, etc. It is very difficult to participate in these sports and not compare your body to others. I did it for years. You can lead by example all you want, but she is going to have it happen at some point. You are doing a great job. DJ is totally right. I’m a pretty fit person (I’ll go ahead and say very fit) and my weight/height wouldn’t put me in the fitness level of BMI. Most girls and women struggle with their body image for years, if not life. But you can do just as DJ said and help create an environment where that isn’t the focus. Again, I think you are an amazing mom!

    • Thanks Sarah. One of my biggest fears having a daughter was just this thing. She’s in two sports that A) keep her very slim/toned; and B) in which she is constantly compared and is staring at herself in a mirror for hours a day. I’m so glad the doctor asked her, and then pointed out the facts.

  3. This is very normal. My husband is a youth pastor and I spend hours and hours every week pouring into teenage girls. It doesn’t matter if they can’t even pinch the skin on the back of their arms, they will say they need to lose weight. I try to encourage them by constantly telling them how beautiful they are but that they need to eat a biscuit (southern for life).

    I can remember being a competitive swimmer and dancing 5 to 6 hours a day in high school. I knew I was thin and never questioned whether I should eat the handful of Oreos at the end of the night, but most of my other extremely thin friends would force themselves to do 100 crunches if they ate 1 cookie.

    I tell you all of this to caution you. Be aware of her eating habits but don’t stress over every little drop of food. One of the teenagers at church struggles with anorexia and shared this with me. I have learned to causally ask if she wants some of my fries, if she’s had dinner, or a snack out of my purse. Many nights I drive her home and get her chicken fingers or throw her a granola bar from my bag. She knows I love her and just want her to be healthy.

  4. Bless. It is a problem. It is definitely a female problem. My son never had this, but all my girls, no matter how thin, how curvy, how muscular, how perfect, really, they only see the faults. No, it probably isn’t you. I don’t participate in ANY dislike of my body, and my girls pick it up from everywhere else.
    I think you should show her some other dancers, in top physical condition, all have a curve at the abdomen, because they’re women.

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