Body Image and My Tween Daughter: “I Won’t Buy That Size”

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Spring is here! It’s time to swap winter sweats for spring shorts, sweatshirts for t-shirts, and boots for flip flops. Who else is ready?

I enjoy shopping for our four kiddos. It’s an act of service and love that provides me a sense of accomplishment to know their drawers and closets are ready for the next season. Retail therapy is also one of my guilty pleasures – especially when there is a great sale or a deal that I can’t pass up. 

For my three bonus sons, the closet reset is fairly easy. My youngest and middle bonus sons prefer activewear shorts and t-shirts in their favorite colors. My teenage bonus likes to shop, so I am just along for the credit card swipe. Done times three!

The closet reset has become more complicated with my daughter who is entering the tween years.

Gone are the days of me being her stylist with the top picks being pinks, florals and dresses. Here are the days of her being the wardrobe designer with a blended style of tomboy and cowgirl.

Off we went to a popular kids’ store, our first in-the-store shopping experience in a year. We started with jean shorts that meet the school’s dress code of length with no frays or holes.

She tried on the first pair, a size 10, which is her age. She could not get them on. Too tight! I was not surprised since that was her size last summer. She tried on the size 12 and wiggled uncomfortably because of the snug waistline. Again, I wasn’t surprised due to her tall and athletic build that experienced a winter growth spurt.

I jumped into problem-solving mode to try the next size. I ran to the denim section and returned to the fitting room. I handed her the size 14 shorts.

Suddenly, my 10-year-old declared, “No. No. I don’t want this type of shorts. I don’t want to buy a size 14.”

My jaw dropped as I processed what she said.

My eyes welled up with tears as I felt she is too young to have that thought.

My heart broke as I looked at my beautiful daughter.

Why is the size of a pair of jean shorts defining my daughter’s self-image at 10-years-old? It’s just a number on the tag. 

I quickly reigned in my emotions and filled her with words of affirmation.

My sweet girl, you are beautifully and wonderfully made on the outside.
You are growing into the girl that God designed you to be.  

My sweet girl, you are beautifully and wonderfully made on the inside.
You have a heart to love and help others, which is more important than any clothing size.

My sweet girl, you are entering the tween years where every girl grows at a different rate.
It’s not about the size of the clothing. It’s not about the size of the clothing matching your age. It’s about finding clothing that fits you best because that’s when you will be comfortable and confident. 

I handed her the size 14 shorts again. She tried them on without resistance. The shorts were way too big and we left the store empty-handed.

From the perspective of completing the task of spring shopping, it was a bust. From the perspective of identifying that my daughter’s self-image is blooming, it was a new beginning.

Comparison to others and being hostage to a number on a clothing tag will steal her joy from life.

Teaching her the critical life skill of positive self-talk, abundant self-love and healthy self-confidence in her physical image starts in our home with me as her head coach. It starts with me!

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