That's just sad

My neighbors' granddaughter is 10 going on 11. She is exceptionally like me- quiet, bookish, and hitting puberty a bit before her friends.

And in the absolute worst way that could happen to a girl- at least in our society.

She's gained some of the necessary weight to begin puberty but she hasn't increased in height. This is how it typically happens, but no doctors or health professionals tell girls this. Why don't they cover this in the "You're a woman now" filmstrip? Yep, here's a Kotex, stick it to your panties and by the way, you're supposed to gain approximately one-third of your adult weight during puberty. No. They skip right to "The only sure way to prevent an STD is by abstinence." There's more to the story, people.

Happened to me and I got called a "fat cow" and sexually harassed all through 6th grade because of it. So believe me, I understand.

Yet in a way, what's happening to this girl is worse. Her friends are telling her she needs to lose weight, that she shouldn't eat this or that because it has too many calories. This little girl is her best friend and next-door neighbor. I'd like to say, "Well get a new friend!" but sometimes even shitty friends are hard to come by. Even then, it's not that easy.

My neighbors (who know about the ED) asked me how they should help K through this. I told them they should teach her how to hit girls like that in the face.

I don't think I was joking by all that much. I'd volunteer.

Then I go further down in the thinking process: okay, maybe this girl is a mean bitch, but she had to learn it somewhere. Not to automatically blame the mother, but she probably heard something. And I think K's mom should feel free to bring this up. Then, however, you have the awful situation of "She's a tattler!" and the teasing and comments won't stop because they're no longer "friends."

Can I just say how glad I am that I'm no longer in middle school and never will be again, EVER? It's another reason why I don't want to reproduce, so that I can spare some other soul from this shit.

To a girl these days (and even in my days in the late 80s and early 90s), being called fat, whether you are or not, is the absolute worst thing you can be called. It's the one rallying cry on the playground. I remember it very well. Kids are mean. They really are.

But someone needs to say that this behavior is unacceptable. I told my neighbors that this might be the best way to handle it. K's friend's behavior is inappropriate and unacceptable and most of all not true. That it will not be tolerated when adults are around. That this girl is abusing you for her own perverse purposes and she's not really a friend.

K is really sweet. She's not a twig, but welcome to reality- most of us aren't. She's healthy and muscular and athletic. And could probably kick this girl's ass in a heartbeat.

I almost wished she would.

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Jeanne said...


Can I have a punch, too???? Please????

Oh, nelly... I hate that this happens - to any child!! Let alone the children we know and care about.

It's a no-win situation.

Except to have as many people as possible talk to K and let her know that she is beautiful - just as she is.

Sarah said...

that is really sad. That just should not be allowed to happen.

I am just now starting to figure out how the early attention (and in some cases I would classify it as harrassment) from boys has affected me. There was a lot I wasn't ready to deal with and it's still playing out for me.

As always, a thought-provoking post. Thanks. Oh and the paws picture is AWESOME.

carrie said...


K's over at my neighbor's pool quite a bit and I'm over there regularly, too (they're my surrogate aunt and uncle because the rest of my family is so far away). She loves to do flips on the diving board, etc, so I tell her how good she is- because she really is. She does flips! Then again, I'm terrified of being upside down, so I could never EVER do that.


You're right about how early attention to your body, especially in a negative way, affects you so many years down the road. It's like you want to hide your physical self. There's evidence that early puberty is a risk factor in developing an ED.



lauren said...

Kids can be so freaking mean!!! I hate that!!!!!!
This is why I want to hold my little man so close!
Have a good weekend sweetie!

mary said...

I think that coming from you she might be able to hear that her friend is just plain wrong!
Do you think you could say something this simple, without going over her head? Both girls need to know that whatever way their body grows is perfectly fine. The 'bully' may not know this.
Growing up is oh so hard at times but when the right people, >CARRIE<, intervene, they can help change everything! Knowing that something bad was said is very good as something CAN be done.
I was a twig as I grew tall fast and guess what I got called ...flatty. Not anymore though! We never forget sharp remarks but we can overcome them.

carrie said...


I want to hold little C close too. He really does look angelic, though I'm sure he has his moments!


K doesn't know my ED history, and I almost hesitate to mention that because I'm sure she's aware of EDs, I don't want that to be quite so prominent in her head. I'm torn between telling her she's beautiful too much because I don't want her to base her self-worth on that. It's so freaking complicated. But I'm giving her mom some good books to read on fostering positive body image.


Kirsten said...

What makes me also sad is to think how widespread this experience is. Puberty is simply Nature doing its job turning children into young adults but our culture has made the process a minefield.

lauren said...

wow carrie thank you for saying that about little c, he def has his moments but he is my heart and I love when others can pick up on that!!
Hugs to you!!!

ms. em said...

this stuff really breaks my heart.

in that i know it happens and my intuition says that it may very well get worse. that one 'study' that made a correlation b/n one's weight and his/her friend's weight, is something that i heard discussed seemingly everywhere i went. and, with the publicity it has received, i think it may still arrise for a while.

and, beyond bullying, cyberbullying has been an issue since the advent of the internet. and cyberbullying is just if not more vicious and hurtful. it makes me scared to ever have a child because it seems anonymity has served as a catalyst for kids to reach new lows of cruelty.


did you see the PSA for cyberbullying prevention? it breaks my heart to hear the cruelty.

Anonymous said...

I wish she'd give her a good punch, too, but the consequences of doing such a thing might outweigh the satisfaction received from it.

Please keep us updated on this. I fear for young girls and how easy it is to tear down a positive body image within them.

Willow said...

My daughter is in exactly this same place. I fear for her Ed wise as she is already showing tendencies that remind me far too much of myself in prepuberty.

It sucks... not much more I can say.

My best method thus far has been to reinforce to her that all bodies are different & her's is right now getting ready to do a lot of growing and changing and to be patient with it.

I did tell her today in the presence of my therapist that I think she is the coolest kid ever and that I feel so lucky to have her as my daughter.

It's a struggle, dealing with my shit and trying to figure out how to guide her, but I've been trying the honesty is the best policy method.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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