Being a teenage girl is no picnic — especially when it comes to body image.
That’s why one mother has taken to social media after her daughter Riley experienced weight-shaming from a nurse practitioner during a recent check-up.
In the Facebook group “Moms of Tweens and Teens,” Julie Venn shares that her athletic daughter began answering all of the nurse’s questions openly without hesitation.
Enter Nurse Practitioner,” Venn writes. “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 (if there’s) anything else going on I should know about? [sic]”
Venn says her daughter answered all of the questions honestly, admitting that school the year before had been difficult, but despite the teen’s answers, the nurse practitioner seemed dissatisfied.
“The NP then looks down at her computer, then back up at Riley’s face and says to my 13 year old daughter, “Tell me RILEY, HOW CAN YOU EXPLAIN ALL OF THIS WEIGHT YOU’VE GAINED?”
Venn writes that her daughter was caught off guard and noticed that her eyes “begin to glass over.” The nurse went on to explain that the “numbers don’t correlate” with her current weight and the numbers from last year, and began accusing the teen of eating junk food.
Jumping into action, Venn writes, “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!'”
After the exam, the nurse asked Venn to join her in the hallway for a private discussion. Once out of earshot from her daughter, the nurse asked why Venn had reacted so strongly.
“I explained under no uncertain terms that she was out of line in the way she dealt with my daughter. Our girls need to be empowered and supported and celebrated,” Venn says. “They already have to compare themselves to ridiculous social media bullshit standards. They are flooded with images of perfection via TV, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Their whole freaking lives have a filter on them!”
Venn went on to assure the nurse that she stresses the importance of healthy eating and exercising and that sports were a part of their family, “Kids eat junk food! Kids sit around watching Netflix! Kids get heavier, lighter, taller, wider! IT’S NORMAL! Our young ladies need a break! If my child has a problem or is OVERWEIGHT than a doctor needs to talk to ME — not my daughter. “
The inappropriateness of the exchange was not lost on Venn’s daughter.
“Riley’s response when we left was, ‘Mom, this is why kids have anorexia or feel like they want to hurt themselves,'” she continues. “She is exactly right!”
Although she said her family would not be returning, Venn did include a sample script for the nurse to follow the next time she interacts with a young, growing woman.
“Let me tell you how exciting this time of your life is,” it begins. “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!”
Moms online are rallying around Venn, praising her for stepping in.
“Your daughter looks and sounds like a beautiful, healthy young woman!” says one commenter. “I’m sure with a balanced, positive Mum like you she’ll soon get over it and have a healthy self-image going forwards. Good for you for challenging the nurse to reconsider her approach with other women at this sensitive age of development.”
“I am embarrassed for this nurse,” another woman writes. “She did a very poor job of taking history. Sounds like she was nursing the paperwork rather than nursing the patient.”
When it comes to parenting, Venn definitely hit this one out of the park.