Girls As Young As 3-Years-Old Worry They Are Fat

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.

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Photo by limaoscarjuliet used with a Creative Commons license – http://www.flickr.com/photos/limaoscarjuliet/3921181137/

73 comments

Amy Liebetreu
Amy L.2 years ago

We need to be teaching our children to love themselves instead placing our individual value on the way we look. Beauty fades and bodies change. Babies should be fat, not anorexic. We need to look at whats important in our culture - what kind of values and moral do we have? Do we want to continue to be a culture that sexualizes everybody and everything? Probably not. We need to change. When the people change the culture will change. But it will never happen until that time.

June Bostock
June Bostock2 years ago

Children should not have to worry about their weight. That is their parents job.

Helen K.

I think the way the media harps on about the obesity epidemic makes it worse. People can harangue children about what may well be normal baby fat while justifying themselves that they are trying to "help".

Sandy Erickson
Sandy Erickson4 years ago

Making woman worry about being fat is sexual harassment. Show woman respect!

Danielle I.
Danielle I.4 years ago

So sad, our society is creating these problems, with its unrealistic views on what is and isn't beautiful. These children should be enjoying life, being children, not worrying about their weight!?! There is so much talk of diets, in the adult world, when it should be talking about healthy eating, regular exercise. If you eat healthy food and get enough exercise you will be the size and weight that is healthy and natural for you. We need a change of attitudes. ALL WOMEN ARE BEAUTIFUL - No matter size, shape, race whatever.

Joy Jin
Joy Jin5 years ago

This is horrible. I hope that our society doesn't become so judgmental about beauty in girls. By the way, everyone is beautiful.

Dorothy D.
Dorothy Dore5 years ago

Its heartbreaking to hear that 6 year olds have to worry about their body image.When I was 11 I started becoming conscious of my "fat",but that was too young to begin with! our society needs to stop drilling the image of perfection into kids minds like that.It is too unhealthy.

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.5 years ago

At that age, I was reeeeaaaally fat. Like a small elephant. :-)

Zee NoPetitions Kallah
.5 years ago

Just be healthy.

Jeffie Freedom
Jeffie Freedom5 years ago

Randi L - "JEFFIE, NO ONE IS PERFECT---Telling a child such can lead to severe issues later in life, as he/she will strain to maintain perfect and fail!!!!!!!!!!!"

Quotation marks Randi. See. Just like I used them here.