Little girls can be so cruel. And they know who’s fat and who’s thin.
ABC amassed its own panel of 5- to 8-year-old girls to talk about body image, and it’s quite enlightening to watch (cue to 2:38 here or view the clip at Jezebel, which describes the experiment as “depressing”).
When ABC’s Andrea Canning asks the squirming girls why they want to eat healthy, one replies “to get strong.” Another, the obvious troublemaker in the group, explains, “So you don’t get fat,” to which the girls erupt in giggles.
One doesn’t want to “get heavy so that my dad could carry me;” another worries about “going pop.”
Still another describes a teacher demurring from cake because she’s on a diet.
Later, Ms. Canning shows the panel some photos of girls their age with their faces blurred out. A girl in a pink, spaghetti-strap dress attracts their attention.
“Oh, she has to lose weight,” announces one. “Yeah, she needs to lose weight,” says another, waving her finger. “Lose weight,” the other girls echo in chipmunk voices.
Would the girl’s figure warrant teasing at school? “Kind of. Sometimes,” the troublemaker says slowly.
The young ladies agree that another girl in the photo series stands out because of her tummy: “The girl in the blue shirt is really chubby wubby,” is how it’s put.
ABC also cites a 2009 University of Central Florida study of 121 girls aged 3 to 6; it found nearly half of the young subjects worried about getting fat.
The researchers said young girls with body-image issues are more at risk of developing eating disorders later on. They attributed negative feelings to teasing from peers, pop-culture images and parents (the ultimate role models) audibly criticizing their own bodies.
Do you complain about your weight in front of your kids?