What did the doctor say?

Yesterday, I had a bunch of errands to run.  At one point, I realized I hadn’t eaten anything yet, and so stopped at a salad bar restaurant called “Souper Salad”.  As I was getting out of the car, I noticed a mother with two girls (one probably about 12 and skinny, one probably about 9 and on the chubby side) meeting a man.  Both the woman and the man were overweight.

As the scene I’m about to relate played out, I found out that the man was the woman’s husband and children’s father.  The mother and the two girls had just gotten back from a doctor appointment, and the mother was telling the father all about it.

When she told about what the doctor had said of the younger girl, the conversation went like this:

M: And what did the Doctor tell you, Grace*?
F:  Why don’t you just tell me?
M:  I want to make sure Grace heard what the Doctor said, and listened to the Doctor.  What did the Doctor say, Grace?
G:  (mumbles something I couldn’t hear)
M:  What was that again?  I couldn’t hear you, speak up!
G:  He said I have to lose weight!
M: And what else did he say?
G:  (mumbles again)
M:  SPEAK UP!  I can’t hear you!
G:  I have to stop sneaking food!
M:  That’s right!  No more sneaking food.

At this point, they were far enough ahead of me I couldn’t hear them anymore.  And that’s saying something because I heard the previous conversation in a parking lot off a busy street with them at least thirty feet away from me. 

They ended up being just ahead of me in line at the salad bar, and I got to witness more of the mother shaming Grace.  Every time Grace chose something the mother approved of she’d say, extremely loudly, “GOOD JOB, GRACE!  That’s what the doctor was talking about!”  The poor girl looked mortified.

I was considering writing about the damage shaming fat kids does to them, but then, as I caught up on my blogs and twitter this morning, I found this article by The Rotund’s Marianne Kirby.  The article states three things she’d tell her own parents about raising a fat child, if she could go back in time and talk to her parents as the child she was.  You might not want to read the replies, they are kind of horrific and also show most people didn’t even read what Marianne wrote.

Seriously, go read the article.  She said what I wanted to say so much better than I could.  And if there was a way for me to find that family and make the mother read that article, I would.

*Name changed to protect the innocent.

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9 Responses

  1. Why just the mother? The father was participating in the shaming, too, from what you overheard.

  2. Marianne’s article was extremely well written and informative. I don’t know how many times I heard growing up “Suck it in” from my mom. >_< Much would have rather heard "I love you".

  3. Ugh. I don’t know what I would do if I had overheard that scene. They are doing so much damage to that poor girl. Can they not see the hand of genetics at work? How differently can their two kids be eating? And why do you suppose she’s sneaking food? Man, oh man.

    I have two kids. Naturally, I would prefer that neither of them inherits my fat, just to make their lives easier. But I know that the cards are stacked against them. I was glad to see Marianne’s piece in the Guardian. Good, common-sense advice. Too bad the vast majority of parents (and the doctors who goad them into weight shaming) won’t read it.

  4. Every time I see or hear about something like this, I thank the universe for my parents.

    I was the skinny one with two brothers who ranged from the higher end of ‘normal’ to pretty fat over the years. Never once did my brothers get lectured on their weight. Never once did I get urged to eat more because I was too skinny, despite the fact that some other people thought I must never get a real meal. Weight fluctuations meant new clothes, not shame.

    Because of the acceptance practiced in my family growing up, when my body began filling out sideways, I didn’t consider it the end of the world. I’m still me, and I’m still worth loving.

    If I could talk to ‘Grace’ I would tell her she has no need to be ashamed. She’s fine just as she is.

    I hope that she has someone in her life to tell her that.

  5. This just infuriates me. I mean–I eat far less than both of my sisters and work out far more, and I’m the heaviest of all of us. I’m also (surprise, surprise) the only one who takes after my father’s side … the side where well over half of them are overweight. HMM, I WONDER WHETHER GENETICS PLAYS A ROLE. Thank goodness I figured out years ago that my father’s fat-shaming is all about his own weight issues rather than anything actually wrong with my body.

  6. Sneaking food? I wonder if she really is? I bet they’re just assuming that.

    Poor kid.

  7. That poor little girl. (I’d be surprised if the older sister had a real healthy body image, even though her self-esteem is not getting the same kind of frequent direct attacks.)

    I agree with you about the value of Marianne’s Guardian article and the horrific comments, but I don’t think the horrible comments are coming from people who didn’t read the article. I think they are coming from people who fundamentally disagree–but about bullying in general, not specifically about fat. Everyone knows fat is badly stigmatized; fat children are vulnerable to bullying, and it only gets worse from there. A large part of Marianne’s point is that emotional support from parents makes vulnerable children better able to cope with bullying. Knowing they are valued, protected, loved, makes them stronger and more resilient.

    Some of the really nasty comments appear to come from the traditional mindset that thinks a child who is vulnerable to bullying needs to be “toughened up” by exposure to bullying. If the child still seems vulnerable, he or she must still be getting coddled too much, and needs to be exposed to more bullying. With a child who is a particular target of bullies, the toughening up is even more important…for the child’s own protection. People who were raised or educated this way sometimes can’t see past it at all.

  8. UGH! That’s enough to make me scream. I’d like to give that pediatrician a good sound kick in the fanny!

    Have you seen this? http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2009/05/faces-of-child-obesity.html

    Fascinating!

    I’m kinda a loud mouth – ask my kids! LOL! I think I would definitely have taken that Mother to ask – and enjoyed it just a little too much!

  9. poor kid….

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