Dear Medical Establishment, Please Stop Fat-Shaming My Toddler

this is my baby giant next to her totally normal sized grandmother

this is my baby giant next to her totally normal sized grandmother

There is an ongoing discussion in my household: is my kid a giant baby or a baby giant?

Zadie was born three weeks early and was on the small side at the start of her life, but she grew like a weed. Her growth curve is abnormal, exponential. A pediatrician once described her growth rate as “explosive.”

She started small, but by one she’d crept up into the 90th percentile for her age group’s height, weight and head circumference. By two, she was already three feet tall and over fifty pounds. She turned three recently, and at her annual well-baby check-up we learned that she’d shot up another six inches and gained another ten pounds. She’s in the 100th percentile for everything. I am a statistician by trade and training (when I’m not, you know, writing about elves and whatever), and she is literally off the charts—like, several standard deviations above normal. As in HOLY SHIT MONSTER BABY big. Just a really, really big kid, this one. It makes sense—her dad is a big bear of a man, and my sister is a broad-shouldered wide-hipped tall drink of water.

She runs all the time. She plays constantly. It is hard for me to keep up with her, but I try, and when I run out of energy I let her push me (5 feet tall, 160 pounds) around in a wheelie chair that desperately needs to be oiled. I have seen my toddler shove our couch across the room, and it was not on casters. She is a big, meaty linebacker of a three year old, and she’s tall enough to pull dirty dishes out of the sink and drop them on the floor if left unattended for a split second.

But her pediatrician wants to refer us to a nutritionist. Even though I cook vegan dinners twice a week and she eats the leftovers for days after, even though she loves vegetables and fresh fruits and is (mercifully) the least picky eater I’ve ever seen, he thinks she should see a nutritionist. Even though we rarely ever give her sugar because HOLY SHIT WE ALREADY CANNOT KEEP UP WITH HER she should see a nutritionist. Because, you know, she’s kind of…chubby.

The thing is my kid is a toddler beefcake with a sleek layer of baby blubber. She’s physically in great shape. The doctors are just concerned you know because of obesity but the thing is that there’s a lot of obese people who are perfectly healthy. My beefcake toddler with the insane energy who runs for literal hours every day? She will probably be one of those perfectly healthy obese people. And her doctors will probably tell her year after year that she should just lose some weight. Not because it’s actually detrimental to her but because, you know, being fat is bad.

My kid was assigned female at birth. Her gender is an open question , but I know firsthand that growing up FAAB in this society leaves you scarred with body issues even if you stop identifying as a woman. And I refuse to tell her she’s not good enough, that her body isn’t good enough, that she needs to be smaller and smaller and smaller still just because. Unless there is a direct medical reason to lose weight I am not allowing anyone to tell her to do it. What’s the nutritionist going to say? To keep feeding her kale?

I don’t want her to hate herself growing up. I want her to revel in her body. It’s going to hard for her to be “the big girl”, and she’s going to be that kid that dwarfs all the other kids in her class at school. Her pediatrician thinks she looks great, just great. There’s no medical reason to suggest that her weight is a problem now or that it will be a problem except for social bias. So, let’s just check that one at the door.

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