The sensitive issue of daughters and weight
My baby fashionista, DD, strolled into my room this morning. “How do you like my outfit?” she asked, preening in front of the full-length mirror (for newcomers to my blog, she’s eight).
So far, so normal.
“I love it,” I said, in all honesty. Thank heavens she’s moved away from the phase of wanting to wear everything black and naff, and into a more age-appropriate phase of jeans and funky t-shirts with plimsolls, which I think really suit her carefree style.
“Mmm,” she said, eyeing herself. “Yeah. I like this top. It makes me look thinner.”
Did you hear the universe crash around my ears? My eight-year-old daughter wants to look thinner.
And I’m going to whisper this because it’s probably hideously politically incorrect, but – seriously? – she’s got a point.
For the last four weeks (while we’ve been on holiday), DD’s been enjoying daily treats of ice creams and cakes, not to mention lunches and dinners out – and we all know what that means in England: deep-fried chicken, fatty sausages, French fries, pizza and ice-creams.
And it’s showing. Although slim all over, she now has a chubby beer-belly that hangs over her waistband. She has love handles. To put it in medical terms, she has visceral fat – the most dangerous sort of fat, especially in a family blighted with obesity and diabetes. Furthermore, I’m very aware of the issue of childhood obesity – in particular in sedentary Dubai, where one child in three is obese or overweright – and the last thing I want to do as a parent is send her into her teenage years with an unhealthy weight problem.
But I don’t want to make her paranoid about eating, either. I don’t want her to swing the other way. So what do I do?
“Don’t worry, she’ll burn it off,” says my mum, sneaking DD an extra Kipling French Fancy and producing croissants for breakfast – and therein lies the problem. While I, growing up in the 70s, spent my days running in the garden, cycling, climbing trees and roller-skating till you had to surgically remove the skates from my feet, DD is not an active child. She’s just not. And she will not burn it off.
All I can do, I suppose, is get her quietly back onto her usual low-fat, high veg, diet; cut out the cakes, the biscuits, the treats and the ice creams; and hope that, by about October, her belly’s disappeared.
And buy her a pair of roller-skates.