Helping My Daughters Grow Up with a Positive Body Image and Self Love

Hello! My younger daughter is 7, and just recently she has started saying she is “fat.” She has said it a few times and also recently said she doesn’t like herself because she is fat. I don’t think other kids have been mean to her, thankfully, but one of her friends pointed out that they look different, and it seems that opened her eyes to how she looks different from other friends. Her BMI is higher than it should be based on the charts for her age, but I don’t think she is extremely overweight. She is active, does ballet and did soccer, loves to play, etc. I feel very sad thinking about her feeling bad about herself, and I want to do everything I can to help her have a positive body image and feeling of self worth based on who she is, 100% lovable just as she is, no matter what, and also help her to lose the extra weight as she grows.

I have a plan for providing her with healthy food and encouraging physical activity so that as she grows she will lose the extra weight. I am not going to talk about “losing weight” or anything like that. I also try to always say positive things about myself and my own weight. I’m trying to lose about ten pounds.

My biggest questions I think are about how to talk about weight with her. I don’t want to just say, “You’re not fat” as if being fat is a terrible thing. I want her to love her body just as it is, and not act like if she’s not skinny that she’s not good enough. On the other hand, I also want to help her understand some basics about how nourishing our body works, and if we eat too much of foods that aren’t very good for us, it’s more fuel than we can use and we end up storing it on our body in the form of fat… And also that some foods just aren’t very good for us to eat too much of or eat all the time, like sugar and processed carbs. I feel like I’ve already been doing okay on the latter, and I did talk to her a little explaining how food works to fuel our bodies and all. I also told her we need fat in our body and brain.

I just really want to do all I can to help her grow up with a healthy body image. Her dad has a tendency to gain weight easily, and she has more of his body type.

Thank you for listening. Do you have any thoughts or ideas on how I can best handle this, and how to talk about it with her and help her love herself as she is?

And any ideas for how to talk more openly with my older daughter who is 11 who now knows that I’m working on losing about ten pounds? She also has worried about her body, even though she has never been at all overweight. I very much want her to also have a positive body image. What I’ve done so far is let her know that I do love my body just as it is, I appreciate all it has done and does do for me, but I also want my clothes to continue to fit well, and also for most of my life I’ve been a little lighter weight than I am now, and that’s what feels more like my true weight. Do you think that is a good way to explain it?