Help Your Daughter Develop a Healthy Body Image

The Facts about Pre-Adolescent Girls

  • Girls today are maturing faster physically than in past years
  • During middle school, most girls gain 15-20% of their adult height and up to half of their adult weight and their bone structure, heart, lungs, liver, spleen, pancreas, and various glands double in size.
  • Prior to puberty a young girl’s body carries only 12% body fat, but with the surge of estrogen at puberty, those dormant, pre-pubertal fat cells undergo a transformation. They start multiplying, storing and enlarging. When enough fat has been stored to bring her body fat up to 17%, her body realizes that there is sufficient fat to menstruate, and signals the start of her first period. The cells keep dividing until the fat level is 22% which is enough stored fat to survive a month of famine. Most of the weight is gained in her breasts, buttock, hips and thighs

It's no wonder pre-adolescent girls often complain about feeling fat. Their bodies are changing rapidly.

How Can Mothers Contribute to a Daughter's Healthy Body Image?

“In households where moms talk about feeling fat, 81% of their teenage daughters said they feel fat too”

Sharon Hersh - Mom I Feel Fat Tweet

Watch what you say

Moms play a vital role in helping their children develop a healthy body image. Chances are your daughter may have the same body type as you. Therefore how you talk about your own shape, may greatly influence how your daughter feels about hers.

“How you respond to your daughter during this time of great vulnerability can have  a significant impact on how she feels about her body and will likely be intricately woven into her body image for the rest of her life.”

Sharon Hersh - Mom I Feel Fat Tweet

Let your daughter know you are there to guide her through the ferocious waves of adolescence

Talking to your daughter openly about all the changes her body will go through including natural weight gain etc. can help your daughter navigate these changes with less stress and turmoil.

Many parents back away from teenagers and let them learn from peers, or school. It is a parent’s role to have these conversations with their children, to teach them the appropriate things during these stages of development.


Teach children to focus on their inner beauty and abilities, not appearance

When our daughters were little and they`d come to me and say “Mommy how do I look?” My response was always, “Honey you look beautiful but you know what’s even more beautiful about you? It is the person you are on the inside!"

Every child has talents and abilities just waiting to be discovered. Encouraging your child in his or her bent will build their confidence and help them shine.

Recommended Resources:

“Mom I Feel Fat” – by Sharon Hersh

“Like Mother Like Daughter” by Debra Waterhouse