Mom Slams the Nurse Who Body-Shamed Her Girl for Gaining Weight

doctor fat shamed tween girl
Moms of Tweens and Teens/Facebook

When Julie Venn took her 13-year-old daughter, Riley, for a checkup recently, she couldn't wait to see how tall her girl had grown. Riley, an active and athletic teen, had a major growth spurt last year, and her mom was loving watching her grow into a strong, healthy, and beautiful young woman. But to her surprise, the nurse practitioner who went over Riley's vitals didn't view the growth spurt the same way. In a powerful post on the Facebook page Moms of Tweens and Teens, Venn wrote about how she actually had to step in to stop the nurse from body-shaming her daughter.

  • The appointment started off like any other, with a physician's assistant measuring Riley's height and weight. But then the questions started.

    "Enter Nurse Practitioner," Venn said on the Moms of Tweens and Teens group on Facebook. "She begins by asking many questions -- what's your bedtime? How much exercise do you get? Are you involved in sports? Do you get enough dairy in your diet? She asks her multiple times -- anything else going on I should know about?"

    The 13-year-old responded politely to the ambush and answered everything that was asked of her, but the questions kept coming. The nurse practitioner asked if she was having a hard time at school, if she was having normal periods, if she was struggling to balance school with all of her activities. "The NP then looks down at her computer, then back up at Riley's face," Venn recalled, "and she says to my 13 year old daughter -- 'Tell me RILEY, HOW CAN YOU EXPLAIN ALL OF THIS WEIGHT YOU'VE GAINED?'"

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  • "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 continued. "I LOST MY MIND. I had a literal, physical reaction. I put my hand up and said 'STOP! You need to stop talking to my daughter about her weight. She is 13, she is strong. She is healthy and she is PERFECT. You need to move on!'"

    Once the appointment was over, the nurse practitioner pulled Venn into another area and asked her why she got so upset. Venn explained to the woman that she was totally out of line -- and the nurse defended herself, saying that she thinks it's appropriate to talk to kids about gaining weight and that "some kids have their own 'pocket money' and use it for junk."

    "Our girls need to be empowered and supported and celebrated," Venn countered. "They already have to compare themselves to the ridiculous social media bullshit standards. They are flooded with images of perfection via tv, youtube, FB, Instagram and Snapchat. Their whole freaking lives have a filter on them! 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! ITS NORMAL!"

    Rightfully, Venn and her daughter left the office and they have zero plans to return.

  • Venn's words struck a nerve with other parents who are sick of the pressure our kids face to look a certain way.

    teen body shamed by doctor
  • Some shared their own struggles with body-shaming doctors.

    teen body shamed by doctor
  • teen body shamed by doctor
  • One person even suggested that Venn file a complaint.

    teen body shamed by doctor

    Venn tells CafeMom that she did have a meeting with the medical director at the practice. "She was sensitive, apologetic and embarrassed," she says. But there was no other followup from the nurse practitioner.

    Thankfully, Riley understood that what she experienced during that appointment was not OK. Wrote Venn, "Riley’s response when we left was 'Mom, this is why kids have anorexia or feel like they want to hurt themselves.'"

    But even though Venn's daughter is smart and strong and "gets it," it doesn't change the fact that what that medical professional said to her was completely inappropriate. Instead of body-shaming her 13-year-old, Venn shared what she wished the nurse practitioner would have said instead:

    “Hey kiddo. 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!"