My 12-year-old daughter has gone from being very happy about being tall to feeling very negative about this and also about the fact that she doesn't have the flat stomach she sees on the models and actresses on TV.
At a friend's recommendation, we watched the film "America the Beautiful," which is an inside look at the modeling/fashion/beauty industry, and what dd mainly seemed to get from this was the realization that she was heavier than the models who thought or were told that they needed to lose weight.
When she started her period a few months before turning 12, she felt kind of sad when she learned that, on average, girls only grow about three more inches after menarche. She was 5'6" at that time and had been counting on growing to be at least 6'. She'd been thrilled at the thought of being taller than me (I'm 5'9 1/2") and it made her sad to think that she might end up just being my height or a little shorter. Now, at 12 1/2, she is 5.8" and actually feels like this is too tall and she doesn't want to get any taller. She wishes she'd drunk coffee as a kid to stunt her growth.
And she just keeps critiquing herself on little things.
I'm starting to worry because, up to now, virtually all of her negative feelings about her body and appearance have come from her own mind, and her own comparisons of herself and media images. We've been homeschooling, but she wants to start school this coming fall, when she'll be 13 and in the 8th grade.
8th grade was the absolute hardest year for me in school, and the year when I received the most cruel and negative feedback from boys and from some other girls about my body. I don't want to assume that dd's school experience will be just like mine. While trying not to be overly negative, I've talked to dd about how many kids in her age group do make really hateful comments about how other kids look, and I heard mean comments about my body in school and she probably would, too -- that most kids do. I told her that I was hoping she could learn to like and accept herself more before starting school, so she'd be ready to just ignore all those mean comments and not take them to heart.
Dd has been reassured by her doctor that she is totally on target as far as her weight-to-height ratio. She's honestly very attractive, and I'm not just saying this because I'm her mom. I'm just saying she has nothing really wrong with her appearance, but, of course, we all have those little oddities or imperfections that cruel and insecure people are all too ready to hone in on in the teen years.
What have some of your own daughters had to deal with in school, and how have you helped them deal with it and come through the experience with a healthy self esteem?