Body Image Revolution Day 3 – Should You Tell a Girl She’s Fat?

Should You Tell a Girl She’s Fat?

Should you tell someone that they’re fat, or should you mind your own business? It’s a difficult question and body image expert Dr Robyn Silverman has the answer: A resounding NO!

Dr Robyn says she’s never met a girl who doesn’t know that she’s “overweight”, or doesn’t feel like she’s overweight.

And telling a girl (or woman) what your opinion of her weight is, is likely to make her feel less confident, less resourceful, less powerful.

If the girl is someone you care about, is that what you want for her?

Dr Robyn’s new book is Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession is Messing Up Our Girls and How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It.

She says we’re at crisis point with body image now, with the vast majority of girls and women wanting to change something about their bodies, and 17 million people in the US alone suffering from diagnosed eating disorders.

What influences this negative body image epidemic?

The easy answer is “the media”, and it’s an accurate one.

Dr Robyn says though that because parents are the first and most trusted source of information, parents have more clout in the long term than does the media.

Yes, she said parents, because while most information on body image focusses on how a mother’s negative body image can set up her daughter for more of the same, the influence of the father is overlooked but should never be underestimated.

father-daughter Fathers Have A Massive Influence on Negative Body Image

“Fathers are the first man in their daughter’s life, he’s like the blueprint for all other men,” she said.

When the father controls his daughter’s food, comments negatively about her body, or about other women’s bodies, he sets up his daughter to believe that’s how men think and she begins to believe there is something wrong with her body.

This is particularly a problem when a girl hits her teens because dads often leave delicate discussions to mothers, believing the conversations are too difficult and out of their male experience.

Instead, says Dr Robyn, dads would do great service to their daughters by finding a way to have the difficult conversations anyway and teach them the distortions in the messages they’re being given about men.

We also talked about mothers and what they can do if their own body feelings have negatively influenced their daughters, how we women relate to one another through the language of diet and how we can shift the conversation, how girls can see themselves as Asset Girls instead of only “hot”, how our thin-hot focus affects boys and future relationships, what information and knowledge our girls need more than advice on how to be thin, and much much more!

This was a content-packed conversation, well worth listening in to.

The Body Image Revolution is an international telesummit bringing together body image experts from around the world to share their wisdom and experience, help women around the world find peace with their own bodies, and bring about a powerful peaceful revolution – one woman at a time.

This article is part of the Body Fat: Good, Bad or Ugly? series, click here to read more.


  1. Britt on October 26, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Yes a father is the first representation of a man in a girls life. Seems like I ask people am I fat not sure if they say yes or know which would make me happier. No then they say that to make me feel better. Yes then they are insensitive.

    • Sandy on October 29, 2010 at 8:59 pm

      Hah, we’re so funny how we set ourselves up so that people can never give us what we want, because no matter what they give us, we’ll be unhappy. I still catch myself doing that from time to time 🙂 But knowing what we’re doing is the first step to changing what we’re doing – so good on you 🙂

      • Britt on October 30, 2010 at 1:34 am

        I wonder this when a person is askng a question like that are they wanting the truth or fishing for a compliment. Maybe some are fishing for a let down,

        • Sandy on October 30, 2010 at 10:40 pm

          yep, fishing for a let down is a pattern we’ve all seen – heck I used to do it myself when I was young 🙂

  2. Britt on October 27, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    Never a good idea to mention to girl she s fat. I think the term fat is subjective . It is in the eye of the beholder .

    • Sandy on October 29, 2010 at 8:33 pm

      Britt, I think we females are SO body conscious, that we actually know if we’re fat or not 🙂 We often think we’re bigger than we are. So then the question is – WHY do we want to tell a girl she’s fat? It’s an interesting one, I reckon… 🙂

  3. Britt on October 30, 2010 at 1:30 am

    We have standards of what we we call normal weight. The range is pretty narrow , people will judge people and label them. Maybe we should broaden the definition of normal somewhat. Yes you are right why should we tell her.

  4. Britt on October 30, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    Could people sometimes be fishing for compliment?

    • Sandy on October 30, 2010 at 10:39 pm

      Britt, I guess people could be fishing for compliments, God knows so many women feel so insecure about their looks. And it gets to feel unpleasant around people who seem needy all the time. I believe though that most people, females especially, even if they’re fishing for a compliment, are just as likely to deflect it when they get one. Also, if they are fishing for a compliment, what does that mean for you?

  5. Britt on October 30, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    Well sometimes when a person fishes for compliments they may just need one. Usually I give them when needed. I think a alot of behavior in people is an attempt to stand out from crowd. We should compliment them on their efforts. If they deflect the compliment like I do sometimes maybe they feel they could do better. Maybe they are saying this is not the best I can do. To answer your question about fishing maybe they are insecure and need some reassurance. Speaking of behavior getting attention could that be the situation with my neighbors kid? Maybe trying negative things to get positive feedback. What do you think?

    • Sandy on October 30, 2010 at 11:34 pm

      Interesting question 😀 Maybe he’s just really comfortable being naked? Maybe the family is more naked behind closed doors?

  6. Britt on October 30, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    I was thinking was some kind on insecurity on his part. I feel we all have so many insecurities that maybe his way is to seek attention maybe. He probably has the same uncertainty that we all suffer from. Just seems ironic that insecurity would manifest it self in this way. I don`t think family is that relaxed ,maybe though. He was just right in front of me though I started to make a joke ,but maybe that would hurt his feelings .

Tell us what you think - you know you want to ;)