An Illinois mother recently found herself defending her 13-year-old daughter during her annual physical when the nurse began asking her a series of questions related to her weight gain — just a few pounds over the course of the year.
Julie Venn shared the story of taking her daughter, Riley, to her physical in a Facebook post that quickly went viral when Moms of Tweens and Teens picked it up. Riley, a competitive softball player in the seventh grade,
"'Tell me, RILEY, HOW CAN YOU EXPLAIN ALL OF THIS WEIGHT YOU'VE GAINED?'" Venn wrote. "My daughter is speechless and her eyes begin to glass over. I am speechless and the NP goes on to explain to her that given what her previous weight was last year, the numbers just don't correlate with her current height. Has she been eating junk food or has her activity level changed?"
Venn says that she immediately "lost [her] mind," and had a "literal, physical reaction" when she put her hand up to say "STOP!"
"'You need to stop talking to my daughter about her weight,'" she says she replied. "'She is 13, she is strong. She is healthy and she is PERFECT. You need to move on!'"
When the nurse asked to speak with Venn privately following the physical, she says that she told the nurse she was out of line.
"Our girls need to be empowered and supported and celebrated," she wrote. "They already have to compare themselves to the ridiculous social media bullsh*t standards. I hammer home the importance of eating healthy, exercising and of course sports because we are sporty people but my god! Kids eat junk food! Kids sit around watching Netflix! Kids get heavier, lighter, taller, wider! IT'S NORMAL! Our young ladies need a break."
One out of three kids are obese, according to American Heart Association, but Riley is not one of them. And Venn argues that, even if she was, the nurse should be talking to her about her daughter's weight, since she's the one doing most of the meal and activity planning.
"We left the office and won't be back," Venn wrote. "The reason I am sharing this is because it is dangerous. Riley's response when we left was 'Mom, this is why kids have anorexia or feel like they want to hurt themselves.' She is exactly right!"
To conclude, Venn shared a script for medical professionals to consider the next time they're talking with a 13-year-old about body weight:
"Let me tell you how exciting this time of your life is. I see you have started to grow into being a strong young woman and that is awesome! Know that some girls gain weight, some lose weight, some struggle with acne, some feel insecure but remember this — YOU ARE PERFECT just the way you are. As you mature, you will be responsible for more things that pertain to your body: hygiene, activity, menstruation, exercise, and healthy eating. This is just the beginning of a long, confusing, sometimes scary road to becoming a woman but it is worth it!"
Moms took to Facebook to share their support and appreciation for Venn's post. Here are 10 of the comments that sum up how they all felt reading about the account.
1. Athletes Are Beautiful
2. Young Girls Need Confidence
3. They Also Need to Be Reminded of Their Inner and Outer Beauty
4. Body Shamers Should Be Held Accountable
5. Young Girls Need Safe Spaces to Speak Up
6. Muscular Bodies Are Beautiful
7. Young Girls' Bodies Change and Adapt
8. Body Shaming Is Far Too Frequent
9. All Girls Are Beautiful
10. Girls Need Advocates
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.