Dear Viv: My daughter is obsessed with her own appearance

On this week's podcast, Viv discusses what to do when your six-year-old is completely obsessed with hair and make-up

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By Viv Groskop on

Dear Viv,

My daughter is six years old (nearly seven) and is completely OBSESSED with her own appearance. Our mornings before school are usually spent agonising and arguing over getting her hair absolutely perfect. If there is a strand out of place the whole thing has to be done again, and she will dissolve into tears if the school skirt she favours is in the wash. 

At weekends she spends hours in front of the bedroom mirror, changing outfits several times a day, fiddling with her hair and plastering on lip-balm or the glittery toy make-up she was given for Christmas. She can't even get into her pyjamas or into the bath without checking herself in the mirror first in case her hair looks "silly".

She often comes out with comments like: "I don't like my face" or "I look weird". It's heartbreaking to watch. She's so little, and although I constantly reassure her about all her other amazing qualities, and try to reaffirm that there are SO many more important things in life, it doesn't seem to sink in.

I've always been careful of my own behaviour around her. I never comment negatively about my own appearance or figure. As a family we eat pretty healthily, but I never talk to her about dieting. I do love clothes and I wear make-up, but I don't spend hours getting ready.

At the moment she seems quite happy at school and she eats well and enjoys various different hobbies, but I'm worried that her obsessions will escalate as she gets older. I'm terrified she's going to end up hating herself, or worse, start self-harming or develop an eating disorder. I'm not sure what else I can do to help her...

Any advice would be much appreciated. 

Got a question for Viv? Email her at The Dear Viv podcast airs weekly on The Pool at 5pm on Tuesdays. All letters will be edited for length. Unfortunately Viv cannot reply to your emails personally. 

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