honesty with kids

So, today I took my three girls shopping for dresses for a Father Daughter Dance. I wanted them to feel pretty but we don't go crazy on these purchases. Anywho the 7 year old, who is tall and lean and strong tried on every stinking pink dress we could find. The 9 year old who has LONG legs but has a little booty tried on every purple dress and the nearly 11 year old prepubescent with legs up to her arm pits but the posture of an 11 year old, so she sticks her belly out a bit. These girls are all athletes and are far from chubby. They are children however and have kid bodies so their bellies can look poochie. I had a terrible notion of my appearance as a kid because I thought I was fat. Looking back I was not at all but I had a skinny friend...she was rail think where I was strong.

In our shopping today each kid had two or three dresses in their "Yes/Maybe" pile. (This was an exhausting excursion for momma) They each had one or two that were super cute and at least one, of course the favorite out of the pile that was just not flattering as it excentuated the poochie posture of a kid. (really stupid styles if you ask me) The nearly 11 year old has some really really nasty girls in her class that would hone in on her if they could find a way to call her fat and this dress was just not flattering.

How much do you guide a kid away from a dress that makes them look "poochie" and not their best if it is their favorite dress out of the pile? I didn't want to make them feel self conscious but I really thought the other dresses were more flattering and apporpriate. The younger two shrugged and picked a better dress like it was nothing. I could tell the 11 year old was disappointed that I didn't love her favorite choice.

How do we not create eating disorders in our kids? How do we teach our children how to eat right, exercise to be strong and healthy, dress themselves to highlight their assests? I had F&** ed up ideas of myself growing up and to this day have to struggle with my self image and living on the line of a disordered past. I work so hard not to screw up my kids but I was stumped today.

What to do in the future????


  • I'd love to know the answer to this as well. I have a almost 6yo little girl who is seriously skinny, shes 34lbs with long chicken legs lol. She says she wishes she wasn't so skinny, I try to tell her shes so beautiful but everyone we see is always commenting on how "tiny" or "skinny" she is. :( I never thought she would think she wanted to look differently, but isn't is human nature? Anyway, that is a little off topic.
    I have huge issues with my body. Always have since I was teased and picked on in grade school because I have RED HAIR! Yes, I was made fun of for red hair, which now I'm in total love with it and would never dye it again :) I also had glasses, I looked like a 70s child with poofy red hair and huge glasses, and this was in the 90's, so I was not "hip" so I was made fun of. Really messed me up, I don't think I can ever recover, I worry about how I look all the time ;( its so sad. I hope you can find an answer. hugs.
  • cmriverside
    cmriverside Posts: 33,937 Member
    Wow. I would buy the dress for the 11 year old that she likes. She will feel better in a dress she chooses because SHE thinks it looks good. Unless it was inappropriate for her age, but that didn't seem to be the issue here.

    Any negative remarks by you would be far worse than remarks by her peers. Those people will disappear. You are her life. Tell her she's beautiful. Because she is.
  • kelsully
    kelsully Posts: 1,008 Member
    I thought about reserving judgement. She asked what I thought and I said "it isn't the most flattering of the three but if you really want that one you may get it"...there was no snarkiness in my statement and no dismissiveness but she looked disappointed.

    I was at a swim party once and there was a group of teens at the party too. It was a graduation party. My kids were still in diapers. There was a teen girl in a very unflattering bikini and the other kids made fun of her. The mom said "she looks terrible in that suit but she wants a bikini like her friends. I have been trying to get her to exercise more but she just won't. She cries all the time that the other kids call her fat. She really looked nice in this tankini she tried on. But I didn't tell her that it was more flattering as I didn't want her to think I was judging her appearance" This mom made a different decision and she was still tormented. Is there a good way to handle this?
  • kelsully
    kelsully Posts: 1,008 Member
    I guess I blew it.....I should have just not said anything and put on an enthusiastic face. Every dress she tried on was the same color, her favorite color. There were a few I thought inappropriate for her age...that I won't budge on, but I guess I should have just let this choice be hers without my input outside of saying go ahead. UGHHHH I have a stomach ache about this.
  • nakabi
    nakabi Posts: 589 Member
    I think you did the right thing. She asked for your opinion and wanted it. It's our jobs as mums to give advice, in love, like you did, and let them make the decision. I wouldn't feel bad for what you did :) Hope they all have a GREAT time at the dance!
  • sjtreely
    sjtreely Posts: 1,014 Member
    I don't think you blew it at all. There's nothing wrong with telling an 11 year old that the dress is not the most flattering, but she can still have it.

    You're her mentor. Mentors do just what you did. The 11 year olds of today are not the 11 year olds of when you and I were that age.

    I would rather suspect this won't be the last time you're asked your opinion. I'm not sure if you did this time, but when she asks again tell her very specific things about the dress (or whatever) that makes her look her best. "I like the A frame on you." "I like the sweetheart neckline." Or whatever ... but be honest.

    Then, when you're off to get a special dress for you take her with you. Allow her to give you her opinion all the while telling her which one you like as well.

    You're building a trusting relationship. Trust yourself and your guidance.
  • jlewis2896
    jlewis2896 Posts: 763 Member
    I guess I blew it.....I should have just not said anything and put on an enthusiastic face. Every dress she tried on was the same color, her favorite color. There were a few I thought inappropriate for her age...that I won't budge on, but I guess I should have just let this choice be hers without my input outside of saying go ahead. UGHHHH I have a stomach ache about this.

    Oh, Kelly, you did not blow it!! We know our kids, but our kids also know us. You said nothing mean, you were just straight honest with her. I understand you being bummed about her being not-completely-ecstatic regarding your reaction, but you are a good mom and I'm sure she loves you just the same.

    If you feel completely awful about it, pull her aside and offer to return the dress you bought if she really would love to have the other dress??

    In a side note, I always try to compliment my daughter on how smart and funny she is. I notice that grandparents, daycare providers, etc. always emphasize appearance ("oh don't you look cute today!"), and by establishing that there are OTHER good qualities, I'm hoping Olivia will have a more well-rounded self-perception as she grows up.
  • Just about anything you say to a kid at that age can come out wrong or hurt them. You could say it in the nicest way, and they would still take it wrong. So don't beat yourself up over that.
    Teaching exercise in kids is so hard, especially with all the distractions now a day.
    One thing you might want to look into is Zumbatomic. It is Zumba for kids ages 4-12, so the other kids could go as well. It might change her whole aspect of exercise.
    At that age though, anything could happen. She could grow out of it and into her body. But what is most important, is that she is taught this stuff before it is too late.
    One thing that may help, and I am just throwing this out there is to talk to her about her changing body. I know you didn't mention this as an issue, but when she gets to that age of the "woman thingy" as I call it, exercise will be so much of an importance. It will make her feel so much better. She is around that age (Unless she started early) and exercise and nutrition will help her with those issues coming up. I was the same way at that age and had the worst time when I hit puberty. Tons of pain!! But the girls who exercised and worked out didn't have as many issues.
  • jayliospecky
    jayliospecky Posts: 25,022 Member
    Don't be so hard on yourself. It sounds like you are a good mom. You love her and are worried about setting her up to be a target of teasing. That's normal. I was just having a discussion similar to this on another thread. For myself, I have to guard against worrying too much, because I know how painful it is to be overweight as a kid and all the torture you endure at school because of it. However, my daughter is not me. And I can't control what other kids will do. All I can do is build up her esteem as much as possible, and have her know she is completely and utterly loved at home.

    When it comes to clothes-shopping, I try to treat her how I want to be treated. I don't generally say that something isn't flattering, but I will say that I don't think something fits properly, or that I don't think it looks as nice as I think it could look. She's gone through "favorite color" stages and sometimes it's hard when they just see a beautiful color and don't really care whether it's two sizes too small. When something just doesn't fit right, I'm pretty firm about it, because that's a part of life as they grow as kids. They always find it hard if they grow out of their "favorite" dress, but life goes on and they get over it eventually. I also sometimes let them get something if they really love it, even if it's not my favorite. It depends.

    My daughters will actually give me similar advice when I try on clothes and have them along. They have picked up the "sensitivity" vibe really well. If they don't like something I try on, they say things like "I don't know..." or "I don't know if it's you..." or even, "do YOU like it?" These are giveaways that they don't really like something about it. I know right away when they like something I try on because they instantly say "that looks REALLY nice" or something equally enthusiastic. They've learned alot about shopping for 8 and 11 year-olds!

    Don't beat yourself up over it. Like someone else suggested, you could talk to her and either get the other dress, or maybe keep looking for something else you both really like. Or, she will just get over it and be fine (as will you.) Hang in there!
  • pammilou
    pammilou Posts: 96 Member
    I don't have a 'good' answer for you, but I wanted you to know that I feel your pain. I have a 20 year old girl, 16 year old boy and 6 year old girl. My 20 year old has been overweight since she was about 10. Just a little, but now, more so. She appears confident and okay with herself, but I think it's all a facade. She's in college now, and I wish I had learned out to eat better much sooner. I grew up either overweight, starving myself, or taking some sort of pill to try to magically get thinner. I only in the last couple of years started finding the balance between caring too much, and not enough. So now I always worry about her health and how much I should say. I don't want to make her feel bad, but also think she's missing out because she doesn't have a lot of confidence, doesn't date, and stays in a lot. Her grandfather was diabetic, so of course that's a huge concern I've mentioned to her. But she'll half-way try to eat better or exercise, then quit shortly into it. If there was a thing to do or not do, I've done them all.

    On the other-hand, I have a 16 year old boy who has a heart condition but doesn't understand that just because he can eat about anything he wants without gaining weight, it doesn't mean his healthy. Or that he shouldn't exercise to strengthen his heart. Then the littlest is a tiny little strong girl. Very athletic looking, but thin as a rail ever since she was a baby. I am trying so hard to keep telling her that she is so strong from her gymnastics, her face is so beautiful, she's smart...things like that. I'm trying to encourage more whole eating instead of junk for all of them (HUGE challenge - they are all so picky!) I was ranting on FB the other day about trying to find the Holy Grail of cookbooks - budget-friendly, family-friendly (truly family-friendly - not 'they should eat this so make them'), not a huge list of ingredients - normal type foods, just healthier. (Hungry-Girl and Cook This Not That has been the best so far - although a little more processed food than I'd like. Can't win them all.)

    Sorry, this is way too long, but I want you to know it's a struggle for us all. Especially those of us with our own long-term issues who are still learning ourselves. And each kid is going to be different, so even if I gave you advice based on mine, it might be different for yours. I'd just say to do your best to accentuate a healthy lifestyle, not thinness, to give positive comments about things other than looks more often than looks, and in the dress scenerio - carefully guide, but let it be up to them in the end. *shrug* We all want to protect them. *hug*
  • rml_16
    rml_16 Posts: 16,414 Member
    All you have to say is that everyone's body is shaped differently and some styles are not flattering on some bodies. Just tell her that she looks beautiful in other dresses, but that one was just not meant for her.

    You don't have to say anything about her size or even criticize her shape. It's all about style and cut.