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how do I help my daughter feel better?

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My 18 year old daughter is beautiful-physically, she has a cute, womanly figure, long blond hair, big blue eyes, a winning smile, and a graceful way about her.  But her character is even lovelier, caring spirit, great sense of humor, responsible...and she is also intellectually gifted, a concert pianist, and teaches piano to adults and children for the past 5 years.

Yet, she is distraught and crippled by a conviction that (of all things) her ankles are cankles.  She is not at all overweight, but has thicker than normal legs and ankles-but not so anyone would notice!!!  EXCEPT HER!  And she is constantly obsessed with it.  She wont wear shorts or dresses, hates to perform because she fears people will notice her ankles, and wears boots when she has to wear a dress.

She has been invited to go to the Florida Keys with her best friend's family, and then we are supposed to go to the outer banks to a beach house for a week as an extended family vacation.  She is so messed up about this!  I cant bear that she either misses out on so much fun due to her obsession, and that when she does go, the fun is overshadowed by her misery at feeling "fat and ugly."  

When I was expecting her, I never thought to pray for big boobs, small hips and trim ankles!  I prayed for healthy, smart, and good!  

I feel badly that she inherited my prominent calves and not trim ankles.  I feel badly that I somehow could not give her my ample bosom.  But I want her to see herself as others do, and believe me, boys have crushes on her left and right but she ignores it because she is so sure she is unacceptable to them.  

I have her in therapy, to try to help her change her thinking, but in the  meantime, she is supposed to leave for this Key West Scuba diving trip and she is a sobbing, curled in a ball MESS about it!  Any advice on what I can possibly say to her except Im sorry I gave you thick ankles and pale skin????  When I tell her how pretty she is, she gets angry and doesnt believe me (Im her mom, Im supposed to think that...) when I tell her she can have fun and not care what others think, she just cries harder.  

I am at a loss!  I raised 5 boys...she is my only daughter.  Anybody know what helps a girl in the throes of such a delusion???

by on May. 11, 2012 at 1:59 PM
Replies (11-17):
by Bronze Member on May. 12, 2012 at 1:50 PM
1 mom liked this

Wow.  That is beyond sad.  Thank goodness she is in counseling!!   Though it is normal for teenage girls to focus on the part of themselves they dislike the most, it sounds like she is obsessed with her ankles.  

I would ask her if she judges others as harshly as she judges herself.    Should someone not wear a swimsuit if they don't have the figure of a model?     Should disabled people not be allowed at the beach because they are not "perfect"?    How about people with visible scars?

Perhaps if she can get a fresh perspective, she will realize that the world is not focused on her ankles.

Also, there are some really cute sandals in style that cover the roman style.

by on May. 12, 2012 at 3:22 PM

I can relate. I developed MRSA in my chest wound after open-heart surg, and now I feel uncomfortable in anything low cut at all.

That said, I finally realized that 99.5% of people never notice, because they're more concerned about their own flaws than mine. Believe me, that wound hasn't slowed my intimacy down one bit !!

by on May. 12, 2012 at 5:21 PM
1 mom liked this

Here Mom is food for thought this is my story so pay attention. Amanda is my only child so I can relate where having only 1 dd comes in. I read your story and I do feel for your child, however please share this with your dd it may help her feel better. Amanda was born 7-7-1983 she was born with a lazy eye completely shut, arterial-septal heart defect, was only 4lbs 15 ounces due to the fact Mom has Epilepsy and had to take meds during my pregnancy, so she had dilantin syndrome and had to have extraction done from her belly button. Amanda has gone through 5 diff eye surgeries and is still blind in her eye to this day. Please click on profile to see pictures of Amanda she is beautiful. She has worked in Mental Health now for 6 years and let's nothing get her down. They have a baby on the way and are happy as heck. Though I feel for your child she can have all the things I have and my dd has. I am not going to get into my health it is too depressing. I live each day thank-God for that day and go on to the next. Because of my health my child has only use of 1 eye, I feel awful but there is nothing I can do. I leave everything up to God. Thick ankles huh? pale skin wow? I will trade with your dd any day. But you know what no I won't. she has to learn to love herself for who she is and has; she sounds like a very smart child so she should act it. Amanda has never said anything to me about her eye, she just Say's she is just grateful to be alive. Now why do you think she said this? because we both almost died she was a 4 min c-section and then 24r hour's later came the news I couldn't have anymore children to risky. Sure I wanted to cry and scream at the world and that would have changed what? Nothing. Bottom line is I two am thankful to be alive. I hope in some small way this helps her...Cher 

by on May. 12, 2012 at 5:45 PM

I think a lot of people can relate. I lost a kidney a year ago due to a rare infection I was unaware I had until it was almost too late. I had a radical nephrectomy where lots of muscle was taken out of places on my stomach and around my back. This left me with a 13 inch scar across my stomach. While it did save my life, it left me pretty disfigured. After a couple of months, I lost a lot of my hair, due to the trauma my body went through. I can't wear anything across my stomach that binds or that doesn't have a stretch waste band. It took me a little bit to adjust to looking in the mirror and liking myself inspite of my scars. My husband has not found me less attractive because of it and we are more intimate now and I am actually happier now than when I had a better body.  What I'm trying to say is, life happens and it can change in a flash. Nothing is for sure whether it be perfect health or a perfect body. There are ways to downplay body flaws with clothes and accessories. I've seen some great answers here to your post. I've got 21 year old twin daughters and I understand how the hormone rollercoaster ride can be. Keep us posted on how she's doing.

by Rose on May. 12, 2012 at 5:56 PM

I'm sorry to hear that your daughter is falling apart over something she can't control.

I see this so often working at the high school and kids, boys included obsess over what they can't fix and it often paralyzes them from excluding themselves from wonderful life events.

Do you have a friend or sister that can talk to her and help her see herself as others see her even a school teacher that she is comfortable with you can reach out is often a good source for encouragement as well.

Good for you getting her some counseling.

by on May. 15, 2012 at 7:01 PM

Really it doesn't matter that some of us have it way worse than others, because what she is feeling is bad to HER. It is good to remind her of the things some others go through that she doesn't have to. At least put that in her mind. I did my dd because of the struggle she has with RA. She can feel sorry for herself.

I tell her its ok, but she will get through it. I think I would get a little annoyed at your daughter if I were you. But just a little, lol.

by on May. 15, 2012 at 7:36 PM
1 mom liked this

Cognitive Thinking is the therapy she needs, it suppose to help you change the way you think and it sounds like that is exactly what she needs, not any therapist will do the trick find one that specializes in Cognitive Thinking and I bet with enough therapy she will not think like this about herself anymore!!!

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