A Mom Had the Nerve to Body Shame My Daughter
Today was the first day of summer camp. My daughter and I walked up the stairs leading to the registration table and surveyed our surroundings. As we greeted the camp staff, another mom and her young daughter joined us. We exchanged pleasantries.
“Good morning,” I said. “Look, sweetie! Making friends can be so easy!”
“Good morning,” the mother replied.
“Is this her first time at this camp?” she asked. “If so, you are going to LOVE it here. They do a terrific job.”
“Yes, this is our first time,” I said. “We’re excited!”
It’s always the collective we on the first day of anything because naturally, I want my daughter to feel supported. But really, she’s the one going to camp. I’m going home to wash the dishes and fold laundry.
After signing in, we escorted our daughters into the main auditorium where the other campers had already begun to congregate.
“When will my friends get here?” mine asked me.
“I’m sure they are on their way,” I said. I smiled at my new mom friend, who turned to me and asked a perfectly reasonable question.
“How old is your daughter?”
“She’s eight,” I said. “Going into third grade in the fall.”
“Wow… she’s eight?” An exaggerated look of shock swept over her face. “My daughter is small too, but she‘s only six! Yours is really tiny.”
“Oh… yeah, she‘s petite,” I said, shrugging because it felt like the right thing to do with my shoulders. I took a step toward my daughter, feeling a tinge of something I couldn’t put my finger on. Annoyance?
Just as I felt the urge to give her the good ‘ole, nice meeting you, she says this:
“Have you considered putting her on growth hormones?”
“Oh… no. She’s just petite, that’s all.” Did a stranger really just offer medical advice?
“You know, growth hormones can be really… ” her voice trailed (not in reality, just in my head.) She continued with a story about someone she knows whose child is on growth hormones. I think it was her nephew or something. I stopped listening.
“She’s fine,” I reiterated. “I was her size when I was that age. I’m sure she’ll have a growth spurt at some point.” Why am I explaining this to a stranger? Did this mother just ask me if I would consider medicating my child for being short? Is she employed by a pharmaceutical company and needs the commission? What is going on here?
I glanced over at my daughter. Though I could be mistaken, I am fairly certain she rolled her eyes and telepathically communicated something like, is this woman for real?
That’s when friendly mom appears to have a moment of clarity. Oops, did she just hear us talking?
“I should be going now,” she said. “Nice meeting you. See you later this afternoon!”
“Likewise,” I said.
Exchanging niceties is the knee-jerk reaction we have when we don’t want to appear rude. I brushed off the awkwardness and hugged my daughter goodbye.
I am not sure that the woman I encountered this morning is self-aware enough to realize that her suggestion of injecting growth hormones is at best, inappropriate. Perhaps she is well intentioned and truly felt my daughter’s small stature has been overlooked by her parents and pediatrician. Or, maybe I’m just likeable and she cares about me? In her defense, I have been told that I have a very kind disposition. The most plausible reason for her behavior, however, is that she was just making conversation and didn’t realize that she kind of sounded like an idiot.
It doesn’t matter. I, too, have put my own foot in my mouth. Sometimes, we forget to put on our filter. We say things that we don’t realize might come off as ridiculous, snobby, crass, rude, or asinine. We forget who we are talking to and attempt pleasant conversation without giving much thought to our words.
I won’t even bother concluding this piece by offering advice (Beware moms and dads! Don’t say stupid stuff!) – That would be trite and ineffective. Instead, I will repeat what my daughter was taught to say in preschool. People come in all shapes and sizes.
What are some of the most ridiculous things strangers have said to you? How about times you forgot to turn on your filter? Share your cringe-worthy stories with us!
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