Written by Mom, Laura Daniels
When Seth was born he was so small, he was underweight and born early. As he grew into his toddler body he remained so thin that I would count and watch every calorie, to make sure he was getting enough food and water as all he did was run around at the speed of light, like a typical boy. As his mom, I used to worry about how little he was growing and eating, I used to think “how can this child have so much energy and yet consume so little”. His low weight worried me.
This all changed as he entered third grade. Seemingly out of nowhere he started to grow and grow. He became tall and thicker, his feet even got bigger. His doctor was not worried about his weight and told us he is working on getting his big kid body and that now is the time to enter him into sports and make sure he is active and eating healthy.
Almost as soon as he started growing, Seth became self-conscious. He started telling his father and I that he was being bullied and kids were making comments about how he looked bigger, they would use words like “fat”. He started telling his school teacher and PE teachers and coaches. He was in lacrosse and martial arts and was very active but as his body was changing he became more and more aware of the fact that he was bigger and taller than a lot of kids in his class. Even parents would make comments, sometimes rude ones about how quickly he had grown.
At home, we noticed that Seth started wearing sweatshirts and jackets to class. He did not feel comfortable wearing the uniform shirts because they were tight; getting dressed for school in the morning became a challenge because he was so self-conscious. We have always worked hard to have healthy habits in the home, no soda, no juice, no Lunchables, no pop tarts, limited treats and lots of healthy fruits and snack. However, Seth started to say he needed to eat less because of the way he was being treated at school. Imagine a 9 year asking if they need to go on a diet because of the terrible things children are saying to them at school.
Adults and parents know that young girls get bullied and body shamed but we are telling our story because boys experience it just as often and it can be so painful. Now that Seth is 12 and taller than his mom, he is starting to realize he is a big, strong young man. It took us years of painful, teary-eyed conversations to help teach him that his body is growing the way it is supposed to and he is so handsome and strong. Teaching a boy that looking like John Cena isn’t normal or healthy is a challenge, trying to limit what they watch and absorb is even harder with TV and social media, especially when your child is being bullied at school and they already feel bad about themselves.
As our kids grow, teaching them to be proud of their growing bodies is just as important as teaching them how to eat healthy and stay active; watching Seth experience body shaming and bullying at a young age taught us this and we hope sharing his story can help other children who may be going through something similar.
To help kids like Seth, please visit ObesityAction.org/Donate.