Friday, April 2, 2010

I had a disturbing doctors visit with Ariana yesterday. This was her 9 year physical and the girl is as healthy as any child I have ever known. At age 9, she was sick for the very first time ever this past February when we all caught that awful stomach bug. Prior to that she has never vomited, never had an unscheduled doctors appointment- never missed a sick day at school. Point is: she is healthy.

So, after the check-up, the doctor concurred, Ariana is perfect... except... she is 'severely' underweight. Now, all 3 of my girls have always measured from 75%-95% in their respective ages for height and 40%-50% for weight. Their father and I were always both tall and thin so the apples don't fall far from the tree. Ariana definitely has my physique.
She looks thin... but severely underweight? No. Just because that is what your little chart says, does not negate looking at her and seeing that she look like an athletic, small framed little girl. The doctor actually asked if she could test her for celiac disease. I asked her some of the symptoms... Ariana did not have any one of them. She's not sick. She is thin.

While I like my doctor and I appreciate her efforts, I really wish it was not done in front of Ariana. I try really hard to make weight a non-issue in this house (well, aside from Colby's beer belly, that is.) I try to make slight changes even when I hear Ariana referring to herself as 'skinny'. I correct her and say she is athletic or healthy. Not only do I not want her concentrating on weight, I do not want her to be making comments in front of other little girls that may cause them to look differently at themselves.

The doctor wanted me to put her on some sort of weight gain regimen. Really? She eats 3 healthy meals per day and at least 3 snacks. And you want me to force her to ingest extra calories just... because. I have researched and found that there really are no health issued with being naturally thin (restricting calories or compulsive exercise to maintain low weight is a whole other story) Anemia is one health risk, but she has not had that yet. I make a conscious effort to feed my kids healthy. No Twinkies, no soda, limited candy, limited juice. And they are very active. Ariana is a dancer- she has muscle tone and not just skin and bones. And she usually is playing at least one sport. I really wish that we could concentrate on our kids being healthy, not how much they weigh, or how they look in their bikinis.

I had these same struggles when I was a little girl... actually my whole youth. I remember having to eat Carnation instant breakfasts as a calorie booster at a very young age. And every year, at every doctors appointment, the doctor would give my mother a hard time. And she would swear to him that she wasn't starving me and that I was a good eater. It even continued into high school where I would have to eat my lunch in the guidance office. How alienating is that? All of my friends are hanging out having a grand time and I am stuck eating in the cinder block office while various adults peek out of the corner of their eyes to make sure I am not stuffing my finger down my throat into the trash can.

Needless to say, this has led to eating issues. How can it not? Which is exactly what I am trying to avoid with my 3 girls. I have a feeling it will be an uphill battle all the way. Our society is determined to be fixated on weight and I certainly can not change that.

Damn, it sucks having boobs.


  1. I'm sorry you and she had to go through that :( I'm emailing you...

  2. I guess it is just as hard being on the thin side of the weight spectrum. The doctor really should look at her overall health and not just some standard. The funny thing about averages is that it takes both exptremes and all there is in bewteeen to make them up! Not everyone will fall into the average weight. I say, keep doing what you're doing and setting a good example for your girls.

  3. absolutely not. Do not give into those silly charts. They are based on the average weight of the average American and the average American is fatter than hell.

    Instead, keep comparing her build to yours at the same age and keep feeding that child healthy organic foods and keep doing what you are doing.

    Love to you and your girls, and that man of yours.

  4. Ugh, I'm sorry the doctor said those things in front of your daughter. That would have upset me the most I think. So far my girls are doing great, 90-98% for height and 75% for weight. But everyone on my side has weight problems, including me and I work very hard to not disparage myself in front of the girls. We talk about our bodies, we talk about my big jiggly belly. I don't want them to think that there is something wrong with it, "mommy just has a big belly, whatever" It's a difficult road when our culture wraps up health and nutrition in a neat little package labeled "weight". Our focus is on nutrition and exercise, not how those things make us look.

  5. Completely agree that those charts are crap, and it would have been way better for the doc to try to discuss with you privately (hard to do in a typical office visit, but possible).

    I remember being a kid and hearing the pediatrician tell my mom that my sister was obese. She was 2 or 3. Certainly chubby, but nothing that wouldn't have resolved itself in time, I'm sure, if it hadn't been made into such a thing. (And a lot of my food issues stemmed from being witness to nonstop discussions about my sister's diet and weight. Even though I was very thin at the time, I got a very clear, if inadvertent, message that getting bigger was unacceptable.)

    Stand your ground, Michele. Your girls are healthy and strong!

  6. Hey Michele - just started following you after Kameron's post about your blocks. LOVE them!! My baby girl is due in a month and I plan to put in an order soon after she's born!!

    Now about your post... oh boy, do I know about doctors and their "charts" and "averages" and "statistics." My husband has a big head (I mean, it's a BIG noggin'!!!) and when my son's was off the charts, we had to take him for an MRI to make sure he didn't have hydrocephaly. Seriously?? He's just got a big dome, people, come on. Most of the time, I don't mind healthcare being such a rule-out science, but it's frustrating when you know there really isn't an issue. I would just keep on with your routine. If she's eating and she's active, there's NOTHING wrong with that!

  7. i'm so sorry for you guys - why is it that doctors feel it is ok to say some things in front of the child? would've been nice to hear "so you are a dancer, you have a dancer's body" know i'm lucky that my sons dr. is very down to earth (trades chickens for appts., no kidding)...there is more to an appt. than a chart - he listens to their words, watches their smiles, watches them move - something can be said about a joyful child enjoying his/her life...weight will always change, boy do i KNOW THAT!

  8. Wow...I can't believe the doctor said that...especially in front of her. That is completely unprofessional, and I would have asked the doctor to step out and explain that to them!

    We had that battle for the first 18 months with my first. "She's not gaining enough weight, she's too skinny...." I am over it.

    We know our kids are eating well and healthy and taking care of themselves. Doctors aren't always the experts.