Kids and Weight

“Mommy, do you think I’m fat?”

Those words from my five year-old, uttered in a soft whisper of a bathroom stall as we changed in to her ballet tights and leotard, stopped me dead in my tracks.

“God, no!” I replied, and then quickly wanted to backtrack.

Not because I think my daughter is fat. She is anything BUT. However, I wanted to backtrack because I didn’t want to condone a belief that she should look to other people’s opinions to feel good about herself.

Kids and Weight

So, there I was, squatting in a bathroom stall, trying to figure out how to make sure my daughter had a positive self-image while I got her dressed.  Sometimes teachable moments happen when you least expect them, right?

Instead of trying to skirt the issue, I asked her if she thought she was fat. And thankfully, she said no.

Digging deeper, I asked why she asked that, and she just shrugged.

I still don’t know where this question came from. Maybe it was from a misplaced joke about full bellies after a big meal, and my daughter just grabbed hold of that thought and ran with it.

Or that time last year when a kid larger than my daughter made a comment about my daughter getting “fat”, because my daughter outgrew her 4T shirts. Because, you know, she was growing. Like little kids are supposed to.

Perhaps I’m blowing all of this out of proportion, or that I’m making too big a deal about this question she asked. I mean, she hasn’t brought it up again, and I doubt she sits around worrying about it since then. But I hate that my Kindergartner is questioning her body at such a young age. That she feels, even for a brief second, she might not be as perfect as she thought she was, or that I think she is.

I think some kids are just more fragile when it comes to their bodies than others. And because she’s a girl, I think the issue becomes exponentially more acute.  Those quick little “fat” comments, even though they may be made in jest, can plant seeds in young girls that root down deep, and there’s just no weed killer for that.

I know that my daughter loves her body. She’s not afraid to get in a bathing suit, and she loves every item of clothing you put on her, no matter how it fits. I’ve seen her checking herself out in the mirror when she’s in her undies before a bath. She likes what she sees. And I want to keep it that way. I don’t want any cheap shot to chip her confidence away.

But more importantly, I want to her to continue liking how she feels in her own skin. I want her to appreciate how strong she is, how good it feels to be active, and how nice it feels to eat healthy.

I know far too well from experience how your mind can mess you up. I’ve been so careful not to make remarks about my own weight, or have her see me scrutinize myself in front of a mirror. But even I fall prey to letting someone else’s comments get the best of me.

One day while driving to school, “All About That Bass” came on, and my son yelled from the backseat “Mom! This song is a good one for you!”

My first instinct was to get defensive. “What the hell? I know I’m not as lean and strong as I used to be, but is all my son sees when he looks at my body is a gigantic ass?” were the kind of thoughts ran through my head at that moment.

But after taking a beat, I realized that this was not how I wanted my daughter to see me react. My son was meaning this as a compliment, with no ill intent.  That even though I may be an apple-bottomed girl, I am strong, healthy, and, like Meghan Trainor explains, every inch of me is perfect. From the bottom to the top.

Just like my daughter.


Has your child ever asked you if you thought they were fat? If so, how did YOU handle it? I’d love to hear your answers in the comments section below!


  1. Ugh. This issue hits home, because I am constantly scrutinizing myself in the mirror, and the kids know it. My son doesn’t want to eat cake because he doesn’t want to get fat. He is in the 25th percentile for weight. The seeds have already been planted. Now all I can do is hope they don’t overtake the garden…

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