He shares with Reddit that he noticed she was getting ‘a belly’
If you’re unfamiliar with Reddit’s ‘Am I The Asshole’ subreddit, just please know that nine times out of 10, it’s full of assholes. And this dad who writes in is no exception — he shares that he decided to put his nine-year-old daughter on a strict diet and exercise regiment because, even though she’s perfectly healthy, he thinks she’s overweight because he noticed she ‘has a belly.’ And that’s just the beginning.
The dad begins by mentioning that he was not an active part in his daughter’s early years because he moved away after he and her mother broke up. We’re already not off to a great start! He says he moved back about a year ago, and now alternates weeks with her mother as part of their custody arrangement for “M.”
“I had noticed M starting to put on weight,” he writes. “She’s not obese but seeing her in person, I’ve noticed she has a belly which hangs over her waistband, and she wears 12-13 clothes despite being only 9.”
If you think this can only go downhill from there, you would be absolutely correct.
Sigh. There’s so much to unpack here. It’s likely correct to assume that a lot of information is missing here because he’s painting himself a little too innocently if his daughter literally thinks people will “hate” her if she’s “fat.” Not that he comes off as anything but abusive here, but it feels like there are some pieces missing.
You have to tread so carefully when discussing food and exercise and bodies with children of all ages, but it’s especially disheartening that this man is clearly setting up his pre-pubescent daughter with a pattern of disordered eating. There is nothing constructive about making a little girl feel like she has to eat raw vegetables and exercise for hours and hours every week or she’s not going to be lovable. It’s utterly heartbreaking. She’s a child! The only person you ever need to discuss your child’s ever-evolving body with is their pediatrician, and that’s only if there’s a clear health issue.
Furthermore, there are so many organizations that put out helpful, productive information on this kind of thing. To not educate yourself about an issue like this is willfully neglectful parenting. And it doesn’t even sound like there’s an issue. Kids’ bodies come in all shapes and sizes and their weight is absolutely not indicative of their health. They’re still growing, FFS, and should be able to eat pizza with joy and without hesitation. (So should adults, for that matter, but that’s for another day.)
The Good People of the internet — also known as people with empathy, the correct information, and emotional depth — immediately took to the post to let him know he was, in fact, the asshole here.
Parents everywhere, please don’t do this. Do not project your body image issues onto your children, do not shame them into thinking diets are sustainable, do not influence them to focus on their weight instead of their happiness, do not comment on their bodies in a critical way ever for any reason, do not weaponize the word “healthy” when it comes to food. Do not be the reason your child develops a complex, disordered eating, or low self-esteem.
Don’t break your children, because they don’t need to be fixed. Capisce?
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