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My 12-yr-old DGD thinks she's ugly

(31 Posts)
Atticus Wed 22-Jul-15 18:03:11

She has a poor image of herself and hides her face when anyone is taking pics.
"I hate my legs," she's just said, "I hate everything!" This while she's trying on an outfit.
Any suggestions as to how we can handle this?

Coolgran65 Wed 22-Jul-15 18:26:49

Poor girl. Is this a new thing, perhaps at the onset of puberty?

Has someone (not necessarily one of her friends) made an insensitive remark. Possibly not directed to her personally but she has taken on board.

Such a young age to be so sad about herself.

Does she have a talent that can be encouraged to boost her self esteem whilst working on her self image.
My heart goes out to her, and to you.

TwiceAsNice Wed 22-Jul-15 18:53:27

Young people her age often have poor self image and there's a lot of peer pressure to "look" a certain way. Is there a counsellor attached to her school she can talk to and do some self-esteem work with her. Does she have nice supportive friends? If so ask her what her friends would say . I say to the young people I work with that nobody pays friends to be nice to you, you are friends because you give each other something good and a friend would not be so critical. Be extra loving and remind her about everything she does well and help her have access to clothes etc that make her feel good about herself. Adolescence is dire sometimes and she's just on the beginning of it.

rosesarered Wed 22-Jul-15 18:58:48

Nothing to be done except praise and help her buy clothes that truly do flatter and not the opposite.So many girls think this way when teenagers but when they grow up think differently.

gillybob Wed 22-Jul-15 20:04:13

I can totally sympathise with the "hiding the face" thing when people are taking pictures Atticus. I was never a pretty child (or adult) very plain indeed and I always thought (and still do) that my face would spoil everyone else's photograph and have avoided cameras all my life. The thing is I am right. I am the least photogenic person. I feel awkward and self conscious and it shows through on photos. I blame a lack of confidence as a child. I can't ever remember being told I was pretty, lovely, cute etc. because I simply wasn't.

I agree with twiceasnice that there is horrendous pressure for children and young people to look a certain way. Magazines use photoshop to make even the plainest person look "stunning" and young people simply cannot compete with this, leaving them feeling like "the ugly sister" .

I wonder has your DGD always felt like this Atticus or is it something new? Could someone have made a nasty comment to her at school?

I think you need to encourage her confidence by helping her feel good about herself a little bit at a time. Remind her she has a lovely shaped face, nice hair, lovely long legs etc. Also you could look at some magazines or catalogues together (NEXT is a handy catalogue to have) and let her show you what she likes. You could then gently help her see what shapes and colours might suit her best bearing in mind that sometimes the latest fashions might not appeal to us. Is she allowed to experiment with a little make up? Perhaps a little bit mascara and natural lip gloss? Does she have a good complexion? Could a tiny bit of tinted moisturizer help cover poor teenage skin problems?

I do hope that this is a temporary phase she is going through. It is very sad and I wish you and your DGD well.

downtoearth Wed 22-Jul-15 20:13:03

poor little girl something that I can truly empathise with..Gillybob I am exactly the same with photos...I avoid the camera too...confidence building is the way forwardxxx

merlotgran Wed 22-Jul-15 20:18:37

I can't really add much to the above posts but the unfortunate thing about being twelve is that you just don't appreciate how much you will change in the next two years.

Such a shame to have low self-esteem when she has so much to look forward to.

Luckygirl Wed 22-Jul-15 21:36:44

Poor lass - my DGD aged 10 is just the same - and such a worrier.

All we do is to try and boost her up as much as we can - but how they do suffer - it is horrible to listen to.

annodomini Wed 22-Jul-15 22:21:47

I have a 12-year-old GD too but so far I haven't heard of any of these attitudes on her part and I wonder if this is because she has so many interests that keep her busy and perhaps boost her self-esteem. She loves reading and writing, is a Scout and is also involved in umpteen clubs at school. Soon the rehearsals for panto will begin. These took up a lot of her time last winter. Recently she gave up competitive swimming which wasn't doing a lot for her self-esteem as she wasn't keeping up with the rest of the group. I hope your DGD feels better about herself very soon, Atticus. It is a time of great change in their lives - entering secondary education, meeting a new peer group, undergoing physical changes too. Naturally she feels insecure.

Anya Wed 22-Jul-15 23:02:04

I agree with those who think she needs some hobby or interest that will absorb her to the extent she forgets about her physical appearance. You can, and should, encourage her to feel good about hetsekf but she needs to be busy and doing things at her age.

Tegan Wed 22-Jul-15 23:23:00

Think she needs to go riding and be obsessed with ponies for the next few years; it's not cheap but it works.

Atticus Wed 22-Jul-15 23:30:51

Thank you for all your lovely responses - some good ideas for her family to work on.
I do feel her problems are exacerbated since she is a middle child with an over-achieving older sister. I agree she has to carve out her own niche, and we need to foster that much as possible.
Thanks again!smile

GrannyAsNanny Thu 23-Jul-15 07:28:59

Please read this article by Melanie Reid, who broke her neck in a riding accident:
And share it with your granddaughter. We all need to read and remember this.

Eloethan Thu 23-Jul-15 15:48:07

Since this self-dislike seems to be a relatively common problem with teenage girls, I wonder if the school has any discussions on these sorts of issues.

I've read it's important that - as a role model - a mother isn't over-critical of her own appearance/figure and shows herself to be a confident, interesting/interested person who, whilst paying reasonable attention to her appearance, does not agonise about the way she looks.

It is quite difficult to address the issue directly since teenagers are notoriously averse to believing the assurances/wise words of their parents/grandparents. However, should the occasion arise naturally, it could be remarked that many of the outwardly beautiful and confident young women photographed in magazines do not appear to be leading wonderful lives and seem to have even more personal problems than women whose lives are not focused around the way they look.

It must be upsetting for you Atticus and I do hope your grand daughter starts to feel much better about herself. 12 is a difficult age - the body is changing and hormones can affect the skin and hair. Hopefully, once things have settled down, she will feel much better.

Tegan Thu 23-Jul-15 16:29:15

I hated everything about myself when I was that age; I only started to feel more confident in my 50's and that didn't last long once gravity took over. I wish I'd been more sporty when I was young; hated my fat legs [still do] but realise now that going to a gym etc would have improved them dramatically. Sport of some kind doesn't just help you physically but helps mentally as well [endorphins and all that].

granjura Thu 23-Jul-15 17:30:02

This is so sad- and tragically so common- partly due to the pressure of the women's and teenage press.

Is her mother aware of this and have you discussed it with her? Could it be linked to Facebook or bullying, even cyber bullying? If I was her mum, I ask to go and see her form tutor and head of year- to see if they are aware of bullying, and ask for help.

Now for the really difficult question- is she overweight (and perhaps less 'attractive' in some way- and I know this is a awful question) or is it all in her head. Some girls developing anorexia truly see themselves as overweight and 'ugly'- even though they are truly attractive and slim- it makes a difference to how it is dealt with by family, friends, and perhaps if needed, counsellor/psychologist.

soontobe Thu 23-Jul-15 21:24:34

I am going to add something [even though I may be shouted at].
It is what is inside a person that is important and what really matters.
A difficult concept when a person is 12 or even 22.

absent Thu 23-Jul-15 21:33:22

I suspect that most Gransnetters believe that what is "inside a person" is what matters. What is a problem is that the first response to girls in the wider world is so often, "Oh isn't she pretty/cute/lovely/sweet/just like a princess?', in other words, to her appearance. This implies that how a girl looks is more important than who she is. It is crucial for the well-being of girls that we show greater interest in the activities, sports, hobbies, achievements, ideas, plans and so on of girls than in their curly hair or big blue eyes.

Deedaa Thu 23-Jul-15 22:07:40

One problem is that today only one sort of "attractive" is admired. People can be many different shapes, sizes and colours yet all be very attractive. Sadly society only seems to recognise thin, preferably blonde, with long legs.

I do wonder if someone at school has been getting at this girl. I can't remember being at all bothered about what I looked like at this age. School work and whether my friend could jump higher than me - yes, looks - no!

granjura Fri 24-Jul-15 08:32:57

soontobe, why would anyone shout at you for that- this is of course what we all, I hope at least, believe. Absent's post says it all.

And of course every child is beautiful, in their own way. However, in order to know how to proceed, it would be helpful to know if she is distorting the reality in her mind, or if she is a bit /or more overweight or has features which are not, today, considered as 'beautiful'. Stopping the distortion in the mind is very different to helping her accept who she is and see all the good things and perhaps help here make changes that will help her.

Anya Fri 24-Jul-15 08:37:05

100% behind you Absent

Nelliemoser Fri 24-Jul-15 08:54:19

Gillybob and Downtoearth Me too I know just what you mean. I have always felt like that. I can't stand having my photograph taken. because of this.

annsixty Fri 24-Jul-15 09:19:11

A feature article in the DT today will do nothing to help any girl feeling like this poor girl. The heading is " Why I hope she stays beautiful " and goes on to say just how beautiful her 2 year old is and how her beauty will take her much further than brains will. I was screaming in my head when I read it. My first GD was born with an awful facial disfigurement and we have battled for 16 years to tell her the usual cliches, the problem is with other people, personality is more important, people will see the person behind it etc, AND IT DOESN'T WORK. My GD wants to look pretty and just like all her friends.

Ariadne Fri 24-Jul-15 09:32:00

I have recently read an article by Lisa Bloom (will try to find the link) in which she talks about how we tend to greet little girls right from the start with the "Aren't you beautiful / cute / sweet" routine even before they can talk. This, she feels, is the beginning of instigating an idea that to be pretty etc. is all that matters, and it is reinforced by media, peer pressure and soon as the girl grows older. Very interesting.

One of my DGDs (11) has been very concerned about her appearance, surprisingly, because she has an extremely athletic mum who rarely wears make up and isn't the slightest bit interested in fashion. Or maybe that's why..however, she (DGD) has had a lot of success on the track and in dance recently, and it has really bolstered her self esteem.

downtoearth Fri 24-Jul-15 11:08:33

Being told you have a nice personality and a brilliant sense of humour in your teens is like being handed the consolation prize,especially when the slow dances come on at the end of the night and your pretty slimfriends knowing you wont get chosen ..unless for a bet all tell you to meet them outside by the cloakroom and ..oh can you get our coats too...having the last laugh though hardly any wrinkles..still the same size...and told I don't look my age....