Should I Tell My Plus Size Daughter to Lose Weight?


Hi CeCe,

I’ve been following your blog for a long time.  I want to start by saying how beautiful you are and what a great role model you are for bigger (for that matter, all) girls everywhere!

I’m hoping you can give me some advice regarding my 18-year-old daughter.  By society’s standards she may be on the lower end of plus-size (12/14) but she trains competitively in the sport of horse show jumping and I am not exaggerating when I tell you that 99% of the young girls in that sport are rail thin. She has never let her size stop her and has received many accomplishments in jumping her 3 horses, has many girl friends, and a lot of riders admire and look up to her.  She’s a good student, a hoot to hang out with, and has never gotten into trouble.

The problem, of course, is guys.  I’m now dealing with the third time she’s had feelings for a guy who only wants to be “friends”.  All three have been super great, good looking guys who I would have had no problem with her dating.  They were all so nice to my daughter and wanted to hang out with her and do things, but wanted to date the rail thin ones and not her.  Then she gets her heart broken and it kills me.

I’m by no means thin, but I was at her age so I’m having a hard time relating.  I seem to go back and forth with my feelings.  Sometimes I want to scream at her to maybe start exercising hard (she does a lot of riding 6 days a week but nothing else and no interest in anything else) and eat better so she won’t keep getting her heart crushed.  I have to walk away when I feel like this because I don’t think it’s the right approach.  She’s an adult now and has to make her own decisions on how to take care of herself.  Sometimes I feel jealous of the skinny girls’ mothers not having to worry about stuff like this.  Sometimes I just feel in despair about the whole situation.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read your stories about Kevin and Robert when I’m feeling down about her.  It reminds me that love is possible at all sizes (I think you’re adorable by the way!) and that my daughter’s time will come.  

How did your parents deal with your size growing up? Did they nag you to lose weight?

-Worried Mom

Hi Worried Mom,

Thanks for writing (and for your kind words *blush*)

 Your instincts are correct, planting the seed that your daughter should lose weight so that her heart wont get crushed is a dangerous thing to do. In my opinion, that’s the innocent thinking that eating disorders are made of. I’ve watched girlfriends of mine become obsessive about their weight when guys weren’t interested in them and it’s not cute.  We have to remember that being thin doesn’t solve all of our problems and having a boyfriend definitely doesn’t solve our problems (heck, boys often cause more problems!).

Skinny girls get their hearts broken too. Skinny girls get put in the friend zone too.

When I look back at the thin girls I grew up with who always had boyfriends, there’s a lot of independent character that they lack now that we’re a little older. Their identities are still grounded in what man is (or isn’t) paying attention to them and that’s no way for a girl to live.

When it came to being an overweight child, I credit my parents with striking a great balance between encouraging me to be healthy while boosting my self-esteem and making sure I knew I was a beautiful/talented/cool kid. My parents encouraged me to play sports, to take dance classes and to try new things. They were also there to lift my spirits when the world was cruel. My parents raised us with a focus on what was important: God, family, grades, personal development… having a boyfriend what no where on that list.

It sounds like your daughter has a lot going for her, the activities and things she’s involved in are what’s going to shape her into a successful and awesome human being– I would continue to focus on the amazing things she’s doing and remember that having a boyfriend is just a perk. She’s going to get married someday and have kids. This time in her life will have no bearing on what’s important in the future.

For me, being a young Plus Size Princess is a gift. It helped me to evolve as a person, learn how to communicate with men non sexually and when my time came… everything worked out. I had a date to every prom and now that I do have an active “grown up” dating life, I work hard to keep men in healthy perspective.

Hope that helps!


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  • Anonymous

    From a 24 year old PSP who survived the “YOU REALLY NEED TO LOSE WEIGHT!” mom-approach….i’m so happy that worried-mom is taking the time to really think about this. Wish my mom had.

  • beekay

    Dear Worried Mom,

    Based on your description, you daughter is a lot like me. I was in her shoes fairly recently. I can tell you that “screaming at her” to lose weight is not healthy, let alone effective. Throughout my teenage years, family and family friends kept telling me that I need to lose weight. Not in a nice way. They were not telling me that I should lose weight because of the health problems I might face one day, nor because being healthy will just all together make me feel better. It was because I wasn’t like every other 18-year old that had a boyfriend. Just like your daughter, every single guy I liked wanted to be friends, and the people around me didn’t miss an opportunity to remind me of that. What they had managed to do is engrave in my brain that being larger than average means that I don’t deserve anyone’s attention or affection. When I got into college, I was a size 14. The day I graduated, I was wearing a dress size 20. That was a year and a half ago. Now, I am back to size 14/16, and happier than I have been in a long long time. What made the small light bulb in my head turn on was the realization that losing weight is about me, not about others. I would be healthy, I would feel good, I would be able to climb a set of stairs without feeling like my heart is going to jump out of my chest. The fact that I would look good in the clothes that I liked and would get men’s attention was a perk, and not the focus.

    If there were one thing I would ask you to consider doing it would be to talk with your daughter and see how she feels about her weight. Explain to her the benefits of eating healthy, and the effects a healthy lifestyle could have on her. If she tells you that she is comfortable in her own skin, then all you can do is be supportive, keep telling how special she is, and do whatever you can to help her self esteem and confidence. If, however, she tells you that she would like to lose weight, please help her understand that she needs to do it for herself and not for the rest of the world. Once she is mentally ready to lose weight, and does it, the rest of the world (guys included) will come around.

    I wholeheartedly agree with CeCe. My skinny girlfriends got their hearts broken too. A lot. My sister did too, and she has the body of a model. Many times the problem was that these girls would like someone, and that someone was interested only in the physical aspect of a relationship and nothing else. I can’t imagine what it feels like when the man you like, wants your body but doesn’t think you are interesting enough to be in a relationship with you.

    I applaud you for thinking about this before you actually talk to your daughter. She is lucky to have you.

    PS: Sorry for the long-winded comment.

    • thebiggirlblog

      Wow BeeKay thanks for sharing your thoughts… the long winded comments are often from the heart. I love what you have to say! xoxo

  • Crown

    The only thing this mother should be concerned about is promoting her daughter’s self-esteem. There are so many challengers that affect a young woman’s self esteem these days; the last place she should feel inadequate is at home with her mother. Instead of considering telling your child she should change how she looks to appease some boy, you should be telling her that if the boy doesn’t like her for who she is, than he’s not good enough for her.

    C’mon, this is parenting 101 here. Why would you ever blame your teenage daughter for being overweight when she is still growing, still maturing, and may not be psychologically capable of coping with body-criticism? Who knows the impact her hormones are having on her body right now? For goodness sake, she’s probably still in puberty!

    The most important issue here is protecting you child’s well-being, her dignity and respect for herself and not her ability to appease teenage boys.

  • thinkinabouthim

    I find it really frustrating that “losing weight to find a man” concept is more prevalent than I thought. I was told this by a male (whom I thought was a buddy) so that I may open my opportunity for different kinds of men..I laughed it off, by really it made me mad. Like Really?! I have been on journey to lose weight (for health reasons though), but it never came to my mind to do it to get men. Yes some may not appreciate all my assets but I do. I do things for myself. We do not need men to give us purpose because we are rounder..We have purpose and the man who we choose will be excited about us..

    Please let the weight issue alone when it comes to dating. Just continue to support her and give her positive encouragement. Everyone goes through the drama of dating no matter the size, shape, or color..

  • V.V. Brown

    Can I start by saying I love all the positivity?

    I was overweight. I lost the weight. I did for myself and on my own terms. I think encouraging a lifestyle change in a positive way would be a really good thing. I don’t know if college is on her horizon but going into that experience with confidence not only in terms of how you look but feel too will only make it easier. I don’t think that dating fits into a box. There’s someone for everyone and a few wrong ones too but that just comes with the territory. Love her. Encourage her. Support her. That’s all you can do!

  • Rachel Holierhoek

    Two questions. 1: What is _wrong_ with your daughter? 2: Why would you want her to have a relationship with a man who would judge her critically for her weight or the size of clothing she wears?

  • Heather Amaral

    Is her daughter honestly considered a plus size at a size 12? By whom? The fashion industry? Size 12 seems pretty normal to me. She is active in sports, she is happy, has lots of friends. Getting your heart broken is a normal part of growing up. We all go through it. We all get put in the friend zone. Why would you want to ruin that by putting the idea in her head that it has anything to do with her weight; especially when it may not have anything to do with it at all? It doesn’t seem to be an idea she’s even considering and that’s the way it ought to stay.

    Whilst I agree with much of what beekay said, I do not agree with the suggestion that Worried Mom ought to ask her daughter how she feels about her weight. It is planting a seed just as much as her other suggestion is. If her daughter is not considering her weight as a problem, to ask her such a question would get her to think, “Why? What’s wrong with me? Do you think I’m fat? AM I fat?” All of these things that aren’t currently there. She seems to be living a healthy lifestyle as it is. Leave it be unless she asks you herself. Let her develop her character and her mind, because ultimately that is what will draw a partner to you when those immature, image-conscious little boys become smarter men. Granted, not all of them make the transition (as you can see by many comment sections on news posts), but a great many do. It is someone with varied interests, hobbies, etc. that will get and keep the attention. You can be rail thin and get initial attention, but if you’re a vapid airhead with nothing to say, you’ll quickly lose it. Even as a size 12 adult, your daughter is normal.

    • beekay

      Well, many times the rejection and the perceived reason for the rejection are equally heart breaking. I was under the impression that Worried Mom’s daughter has perceived “being larger” as a reason for the rejection, in which case I think that such a conversation is not inappropriate. If that is not the case, I completely agree that the seed should not be planted.

  • CG

    Good advice CeCe. Not related, but an issue for me today again is friends bringing up the conversation of dieting. I have some good friends who when we are out suddenly say things like “so, Susie’s lost a ton of weight..blah blah blah” and I have no idea who Susie is but she doesn’t fit into our conversation at all. Plus, Of not someone’s weight loss (I would care if I knew them) it’s invites to exercise with them. Today I was told I should try the Bernstein diet because so and so is on it. I NEVER complain about my weight, clothes or fitness. Last time I was pushed into joining a boot camp, I was so demoralized and also re injured my bad knee because the trainer made me do things my body wasn;t ready for. I walk the dog twice a day, swim and kayak, so I’m not lazy. I’m starting to feel that they are all ganging up and talking about how unhappy I must because I am overweight. That would never happen if I was too skinny. Just venting .Thank you.

    • K.

      DITCH those friends! Im serious. They sound like crappy friends to me. Ive learned the hard way that people who make me feel bad about myself have NO place in my life. And if you dont ditch them confront them. Explain to them that most overweight people have an eating disorder, its like bulimia without puking. If I were you Id tell them a lot more, not so nice things… sorry, this just pisses me off. With friends like that you dont need enemies.

      • CeCe Olisa

        I think K. summed it up… If you want to address it head on you can. It might make you feel better to talk it out before you open yourself up to a new circle. Caring about your health isn’t a bad thing, but the approach they’re taking seems odd…. xoxo

  • Sophie

    All the husbands, partners, boyfriends and girlfriends of fat women are
    testament to the kind of love all bigger ladies deserve!

    I recently wrote a post (Fattily Ever After) about this very issue, which you can check out if you want an encouraging perspective on it:

  • breathing_alice

    Echoing what others have said, mainly, but I definitely want to emphasize a few points in particular:

    1. It’s great that you’re thinking about this before talking with your daughter, since it’s such a fraught topic! My mother and I have reached a good place around weight, but it took more than a decade of work. Nagging me to lose weight was a toxic, painful parenting strategy that resulted in some temporary weight loss, but I ended up at a higher weight with a disordered relationship to food at the end of it all.

    2. Even though she’s had some hard times, she’s not destined to forever be in the ‘friend zone.’ As someone who dated some really good people as a size 18 at age 18, I can personally testify to that fact.

    3. If her weight *is* removing some guys from her potential dating pool, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It sounds like her body has been this size for a while, and that this is where it naturally ends up when she’s healthy and active. Since most people who lose weight regain it (and often end up heavier than when they started), it would be painful to lose weight to become temporarily smaller, get involved with a guy who only likes small women, then regain the weight and have to navigate the problems that come with that.

    Supporting her, reassuring her that she deserves a boyfriend who really likes her as she is, for who she is, and listening to her as she deals with the suckage that goes along with being 18 is hard! But I really believe that it’ll be so much better for you both than if you try to ‘fix’ her.

  • Vanessa

    I’m a plus size “daughter” as well :) and I can assure you that forcing her, yelling at her to lose weight or even make slight insinuations is just going to mess up your relationship,and won’t make her lose any weight. Please don’t try to make her conform to what you think guys would like her to be, and please accept her like that. I promise a man will do the same eventually. She seems like a healthy, confident young girl despite those guys only wanting to be “friends”, and it’s great. She shouldn’t base her self-esteem on whether or not a guy wants her. If she wants to lose weight someday, you can help, but it will be her decision :)

  • mel

    Hi, I just want to say that your ethos on being a plus sized princess is inspiring. I wish you had a column in womans magazine, your words are an inspiration to us plus sizes.

  • By kimB

    I think CeCe started to hit on a great point here! And one thing that really stood out to me because growing up I NEVER had a boyfriend. As a matter of fact I didn’t have a boyfriend or anything remotely close to one until college. I would cry and wonder why nobody liked me, why I was CONSTANTLY just a friend and nothing more. Didn’t have my 1st kiss until a month before my 18th birthday.

    I was athletic, funny, and actually homecoming queen but still nothing. Weight also didn’t play a role because I played 3 sports and was in incredible shape!

    Where I’m going with this is weight and boys are not mutually exclusive. And heartbreak does happen and will happen at any size and any age.

    We all have things that we perceive as a hinderance and use to victimize ourselves but that’s the joy of life! Learning how to overcome those obstacles and gaining incredible confidence when we do!
    If this particular girl is unhealthy and has threatening or potentially threatening health issues then I agree absolutely making healthy living a priority. But if its just a guy issue then its really a non-issue. I mean we only need one good one right?

  • By kimB

    Ps worried mom. It’s so nice to see how much you love your daughter and how highly you think of her accomplishments. I know riding is a very “skinny” sport and your daughter sounds like one tough and confident cookie to not be swayed out of the sport!

    Just keep the encouragement and support flowing and that in my opinion is worth more than taking time to worry =)

  • bruce

    where is the horse being kept?

    i would like to send a vet out at my own expense to check on the horse to make sure it doesn’t have any back issues carry a large female around.

    • Sophie


      Actually, send me the number for the vet. I’ve been told that a certain baboon is sick of you playing the part of a fissure on his asshole.

  • Miss_Maven

    If she is still having trouble dating after a year at college TELL HER THE TRUTH. This is not pretty by any means and I am sure most on this site will disagree with me, but being plus size in todays world and TRYING TO FIND A MAN to date/marry put you at a SEVERE disadvantage.

    Again, no one is going to like my answer but it is the truth. A lot of the problems CeCe has in dating stem from the fact that she is overweight, thus having less options/men who find her attractive, then choosing the few she is attracted back to. I see thin (slutty) girls get over heart breaks faster because they have guys lining up to be with them around the corner.

    • CeCe Olisa

      Thanks for the comment and sharing a different opinion… I’ve been dating a great guy for a while now, so I’m curious to know which “problems in dating” you’re referring to– I’d honestly love to hear your thoughts/perspective on things. Talk Soon!

      • Miss_Maven

        Thanks Cece, I will re-read a few of the blogs and get back to you on this one. But you are super open minded and I wish you luck in your current relationship (is this the Urban Outfitters guy, cuz I read the first post haven’t read the second one yet.)

        • thebiggirlblog

          lol I had a feeling you weren’t super familiar with my dating life… I’ve been happy with the same guy for a while now. The Brian story is an old one 😉 I will be addressing your thoughts in a blog this week because I think they’re interesting! Hope you chime in! xoxo

  • Annie Chen

    I really liked the way you answered this question, Cece.

    Just one thing though, Worried Mother-
    “Sometimes I feel jealous of the skinny girls’ mothers not having to worry about stuff like this.”- saying things like this is not okay!


    You say you want the best for your daughter. Start treating her like you mean it.

  • beatricebang

    I’m a size zero and I’ve been put in the friend zone and have gotten my heart broken plenty times. Your daughter is fine and beautiful the way she is and to tell her differently would be a huge mistake. The right guy is out there. She’s still young..

  • Lindsay

    Pretty late with this, but WTH. I’ve always been a bit heavy, and my mom was always trying new diets. Well, what she tried, I had to. But whenever something bombed for her, but worked for me, she would immediately stop doing it and make me stop too. Her “plan of attack” so to say, was to call me every name in the book, preceded by fat, or porky, or huge. So, needless to say, I never really felt at home in my own body until I met my husband. He actually got pretty pissed off when my mom gave me two bottle of diet pills for christmas when we were engaged. I’m just recently beginning to be comfortable in my own being, and my husband thinks I’m gorgeous, fat or thin. I am however, at the moment, on a diet, but I’m on it so I can get pregnant and keep my diabetes in check. My mom still calls me those names, but she also has an excuse ready whenever she does. Just don’t ever call your daughter names to try to get her on a diet. She’ll end up resenting you, like I resent my mother. fat shaming never works. Don’t tell her she “could be beautiful, if she just lost weight.” She’s beautiful now, and I don’t know her.

  • Caro

    This reminds me of something I read the other day

    As if people aren’t already aware of their size or how it makes them feel…nobody needs an intervention. At same time we’re constantly being fed crappy info about how to really lose weight. In that respect, watching the Fat Head documentary changed my life and I highly recommend it to everyone, fat or thin, sick or healthy.

  • rtoz

    Surya Namaskar Yoga to improve your Health.

  • Clint Barton

    This whole “Needing to lose weight to find a guy” thing is ridiculous…. sadly its a ridiculous thing I have fallen for. I’m a size 10 and a lot of times the guys I have a thing for don’t find me attractive because of my weight, even though I’m not even considered plus size, they won’t date a girl who wears more than a 4. I usually just figure those are the type of guys I shouldn’t want in my life anyways; but when I’m talking an flirting to a guy who does find me attractive and I tell my male friend about it (with whom I usually have a good relationship) he acts surprised like its the hardest thing in the world to find me attractive. Simply because he can’t look over that even though I have likable qualities and a decent personality, I also have a little bit of belly fat and big boobs and hips.