In a world where a mother proudly injects her daughters with botox, it is of little surprise to me that younger and younger girls are worrying about their weight and bodies.
According to a 2009 University of Central Florida study, nearly half of the 3- to 6-year-old participants surveyed said they worried about being fat.
ABC interviewed a 6-year-old pre-K student from Houston, Texas, Taylor Call, who like the girls in the study finds herself worrying that she is fat.
Taylor Call’s Story
One day after school Call asked her mother: “Mommy, why is my tummy so fat? … A girl in the bathroom at school asked me why I was fat.” At a recent birthday party, Call was also called “fat girl” by a young boy at the party.
Call’s peers aren’t the only ones making her feel self-conscious about her body and weight.
“I don’t like to be my weight and my teacher always tells me I have to run so I can be really, really not like this size,” said Call.
Call’s weight, however, is normal according to her pediatrician who adds that she is not at risk of being overweight. Nevertheless, these comments have struck a chord with Call who now worries about her appearance and losing weight. This is particularly concerning given that the number of eating disorder hospitalizations for kids under age 12 has more than doubled between 2000 and 2006, according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).
While there is no direct link demonstrating that childhood teasing leads to eating disorders, many women suffering from eating disorders do recall painful memories about their body and weight from childhood.
What Do Other Young Girls Think About Their Weight?
Good Morning American assembled a group of 5-8 year olds to get their perspective on weight and body image concerns.
When asked, “Why do you want to eat healthy?”a girl responded with, “So you don’t get fat,” which elicited a great deal of laughter from the group.
When asked, “How do you feel about people who are overweight?” another girl responded with, “I feel sad about them.”
When showed pictures of girls their age who were different sizes, the girls’ criticism of different body types was clear. One of the panelists even described a girl in a picture as being “really chubby wubby” which again elicited laughter from the group.
This jut reaction to poke fun of girls for their bodies or weight is real and something that needs to be addressed with girls at younger and younger ages. I worry about what this type of teasing can do to girls later on in life. While they may not develop eating disorders, a lifetime of disordered eating and self-criticism isn’t healthy either.
Related from Care2:
Photo by limaoscarjuliet used with a Creative Commons license – http://www.flickr.com/photos/limaoscarjuliet/3921181137/
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