Being a parent is the hardest job in the world. You are a caregiver, a provider, an advocate, and so much more. This special being you are protecting and raising holds a special place in your heart and when that special being is broken, you are too. Today I am sharing an event that took place in our doctor’s office – The Day Our Doctor Body Shamed Our Son.
Parenting After Body Shaming
Jude is getting to be to the age that we are being more careful about what we share on this space on the world wide web. Being 9 he is well aware of my blog and social channels and while he loves helping me with projects I know that in a few years he will not be so excited to see himself on our website. This particular event is something that has been sitting in my drafts for a few years and I just haven’t had the guts to push publish but as I see the body positive movement rising up all over social media, I think it is time that I bring this event to the movement.
We have always taken both Jude and Teagan in for their yearly well checks around their birthdays. We love going and not only hearing that our kids are healthy but also getting to see how much they have grown over the past year. Birthday Stats have been something I have shared on this space since Jude was first born and will probably continue to do for years to come. You see, this space started as a journey for me and then turned into a digital baby book for the kids. I love being able to look back at their stats and milestones whenever I want to.
A few years ago we made his wellness exam and walked into the doctor’s office excited to see how our “little man” had grown. Look, if you have been around here for long you know that Jude has always come in around the 99th percentile for both height and weight. While we walked into that appointment happy, we walked out disappointed, embarrassed and furious.
The Day Our Doctor Body Shamed Our Son
Before I jump into the event itself. I want to be clear, I absolutely support healthy lifestyles and understand that doctors need to be proactive with their patients when it comes to healthy choices and lifestyles.
The doctor we saw that day was a doctor we had seen many times at our pediatricians office. In fact, we actually enjoyed her and felt like she knew Jude well. Once she came into the room with Jude and me she looked at the notes the nurse had taken and immediately asked Jude about his eating habits and exercise routines. There was no physical taking place. I started getting anxious and so did Jude. I felt judged as a parent but knew my son was also starting to feel uncomfortable. I truly felt like this doctor was looking at Jude like he was a lump on a log that couldn’t do anything due to his weight. Devastated.
Through out this discussion we shared our eating habits and what sports and activities Jude was involved in. Then it happened, she turned to Jude and told that he must start being careful with what he eats because he is going to be unhealthy. Immediately, Jude looked at me and asked if he was too big for his age. We have always told him he was big because he is consistently a head or more taller than the rest of his classmates and friends. We never meant that as an unhealthy thing.
We have talked about this before but as a reminder, Jude is a very anxious child. The wheels in his brain were turning, he felt like he was fat and not “right”. It made me sad. What killed me was as the doctor was questioning us the questions she was asking were so presumptuous.
- He must not be active enough (NOPE spend 20 minutes with him)
- He must drink pop and juice (NOPE our kids do NOT!)
- He must not eat fruits and veggies (HE LOVES most fruits and veggies)
- He must eat fast food and dessert every meal (Wrong again doc!)
I started getting really upset but was wanting this to be as professional as possible so I “took her advice” to move this appointment right along. We made it out and after that, Jude was worried, he felt like he was fat and unhealthy. Honestly, hearing the word “FAT” come out of my then 7 year old son was heartbreaking.
Teachable Moments After Body Shaming
We have since found a new pediatrician and are happy with her. Instead of just looking at Jude’s size she sat with us and looked at his chart since he was born. There is not crazy increase in his height or weight, he has stated within the same percentile his entire life. Now, because of how his genetics are showing these higher percentages he will obviously be that person that cannot eat unhealthy and not exercise and expect to not gain weight. That is just a fact.
While I have to be honest, walking into his appointment this year I was still nervous for what the doctor would say we were happy to have a great report and even some fun conversations with the doctor. She was giving Jude some great advice on how his plate should look every meal with the mix of fruits and veggies, protein and some kind of whole grain. Again, because he loves learning he is really interested in this and I am happy to see that he is understanding that moderation is key in life. Yes, we will eat ice cream and yes we will eat green beans and still enjoy a healthy balanced life!
Reinforcing Positive Body Image For Our Son
We have all had to deal with some sort of body shaming. Too fat, too skinny, too short, too tall, etc. This is life, unfortunately, but I never thought I would be having to reinforce positive body image for my son after a visit to the doctor! Since this visit we have found a new doctor and love her. We have been open with Jude about why we want to use moderation when it comes to fast food and dessert. But most importantly we have made sure to let Jude know that he is perfectly made and he is healthy.
He will always “stick out” due to his height but it is important for us to make sure that he takes that amazing quality and find confidence in it. Building positive body image is something parents MUST do at all ages and for all genders. It is clear that our society is stuck on fitting into a certain look but if we start this process of positive body image and positive talk I believe we will have a much healthier generation of kiddos.
A Moms Take Away
I was so angry on that day. But today I am looking at Jude and seeing how amazing he is. We are using this event as a teachable moment for him but also a reminder to us that we must advocate for our children and ourselves. Parenting is the hardest job and even a trip to the doctors office and bring out difficult times. I will not have my child shamed for living a healthy and balanced life.
For the record – Jude’s 9 year old stats are pretty much off the charts yet again but his pediatrician sees the continued pattern in the charts and says he is doing great! Height: 4’10” (99%) and Weight: 106 pounds (98%).