Most moms recognize the pressure that comes with raising a young girl. We grew up in the early ‘00s when Jessica Simpson was “fat,” and our moms were eating two bowls of Special K a day to lose 10 pounds in two weeks (or so they claimed!).
Basically, we are no stranger to body issues, and we’re extra conscious of making sure not to pass any of that toxicity down to our own daughters. Even still, there is only so much we can do to protect them from toxic body culture and the comparison game.
A mom on TikTok went viral after sharing how her 9-year-old daughter confessed she thinks she’s too fat and is worried about how she’ll end up looking once she grows up.
The situation has sparked debate on how this mom “should” have responded as well as some encouragement from other moms who have found themselves in similar situations.
“My 9-year-old’s saying she’s fat, and this is because she has to wear adult sizes versus kids ’cause she’s really tall, just like me,” Mackenzie Waddell explained.
She said that she and and her daughter were in the Target dressing room, trying on some clothes when her daughter confessed some heartbreaking feelings to Waddell. She told her mom how upsetting it was that she had to wear adult sizes instead of kid sizes.
“She kept calling herself ‘fat’ and that she had too big of a butt and that the other kids her age don’t have to wear adult clothes,” Waddell continued. “I reminded her that I too had to wear adult clothes when I was her age ’cause I was really tall just like she is.”
Then, her daughter asked a question that broke Waddell’s heart.
“… she asked me if she was gonna look like me when she grew up. And I asked her, ‘Do you mean big like me? When you grow up?’ And she said, ‘Yes. I’m not trying to be mean mom, but I want to look like Aunt Sarah, not you,’” she recalled.
Waddell said that she kept up a “brave face” and didn’t show much hurtful those words hurt her. Instead, she told her daughter that she just wanted her to be “happy and healthy,” noting that as long as her daughter was happy and loved herself that was all that mattered, no matter what size she was.
“And was I hurt? Yeah, I was. But she didn’t mean to hurt me. It just really sucked. Yeah,” she concluded.
Waddell’s deeply painful moment resonated with other moms who commented on the video, sending her love and support.
“Oh mama. Thank god she feels comfortable to talk to you openly,” one user wrote.
“ughhhhh I wish I could scoop you up into the biggest hug💗💗💗 what a dignified response,” another said.
Others wished that Waddell would have been more open with her feelings when her daughter said something hurtful, showing her that the words she uses carry weight.
“You should tell her she hurt your feelings. She needs to know. You did a great job supporting her in how she feels. She has to learn that skill also,” one user wrote.
Another wrote, “huny you should let her see the hurt of emotion in your face so she knows it not okay to ask questions like that”
Other responses on the video were not as kind or supportive.
In one such response, another mom advised Waddell to remove all unhealthy foods from the house so that her daughter would be forced to lose weight. She responded to the comment with a follow-up video.
“A lot of people, and I mean a lot of people, like to assume that plus-sized people don’t know how to eat healthy, or are unhealthy, when in fact, we’re not,” she said.
“And my daughter is very healthy. She has every opportunity in the world to be healthy. She’s in dance. We go on walks, we go swimming. We make her eat her vegetables. We give her opportunities to be healthy. She’s just extremely tall, like her mom,” she added.
She explained that she makes a conscious effort to never speak about her weight or body in front of her daughter, and she works hard to instill in her daughter the idea of food neutrality.
“If my daughter wants a f**king candy bar, she’s getting a g*ddamn candy bar. I’m not going to not let her eat foods that she likes … I’m never gonna tell her her weight is the problem because that’s what traumatized me,” Waddell said.
Despite all the negative comments Waddell received on the viral video, she’s just thankful that her daughter felt open enough to be honest with her.
“She’s allowed to have her opinions,” she said in another follow-up video. “And who wouldn’t want to look like Aunt Sarah? Aunt Sarah is gorgeous. She’s just a tween going through puberty.”