THE BLOG

Our Teen Girls and the Obsession With Size 0

10/03/2013 12:47 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014
  • Barbara Greenberg Clinical Psychologist featured on CNN, Good Morning America and ABC Nightline

I worry about our teen girls all the time. Look, I raised one. I work with them in my practice all the time. I've been working with them for years and I get to see the trends as they are occurring. Our teen girls come in all shapes and sizes and now they are striving to be a size... drum roll please... 0. Just look at this tumblr page where "skin and bones" is eager to be a size 0. When I was growing up there was no such thing as a size 0. For goodness sake, 0 usually implies that something is not good, not worthwhile and not existent. I guess this is what many teens are after -- a body where fat does not exist.

This trend to be a size 0 concerns me greatly. I've written a lot about the "thigh gap" trend. Here teen girls try to whittle their bodies down in an attempt to have a space between their thighs. It is so sad that this is what our teen girls put their precious energy into. Now the combination of wanting to be both a size 0 and to have a "thigh gap" worries me tremendously. This is a perfect recipe for the development of an eating disorder and accompanying depression.

I would love to see manufacturers drop this sizing system. In fact I have even seen size 00 which is even smaller than 0. I would also love to see parents refuse to buy their daughters' clothes if they are size 0. We've got to stand up as a group and refuse to let our daughters be beaten down by attempts to fit into such ridiculously sized clothing. For goodness sake, I have never seen clothing for teenage boys sized in this manner. As long as size 0s continue to be available our daughters will see them as socially acceptable and desirable.

I say let's say NO to purchasing such clothing. Talk to your daughters about how there is no virtue in striving for being a 0 in any realm of life. See if you can get your daughters to see this size as ludicrous. Use humor if you have to. Most importantly, let your daughters know that you are aware of these sizes and that they are unacceptable to you. You want your daughter to be healthy, take up some space and purchase a size that she doesn't have to destroy herself to fit into.

This obsession with size 0 is dangerous and can lead not only to eating disorders and depression but also to death. I'm not trying to be alarmist here. On second thought perhaps I am. After all eating disorders are associated with physical problems that can lead to death. Look, you have a parental responsibility here. Take your daughter shopping and take a look at what is going on in the stores. These sizes would not be in the stores if we as a powerful group of women and mothers refused to allow our daughters to purchase them. Your thoughts?