A Weighty Issue



I took G. in for her five-year-old well-child visit yesterday. I’m guessing it will suprise no one to learn that she is a very healthy little girl.


In many ways, G. is the child about whom we’ve had the fewest worries. She was born full-term, has had no developmental delays, and seems to blend well with her peers. She is sparkly and flirty and sweet and, well, well-liked. Is she perfect? Of course not. But, blessedly, she hasn’t had any major bumps in the road as of yet.


She is also our most average-sized child.


A Weighty Issue


As a baby, A. was gigantic in both length and weight. Now, he’s still super tall, but, even though his weight is higher than the median (he’s about the 65th%), he would never in a gazillion years be considered “big” or “thick” or “chunky” or even “sturdy.” Ribs sticking out and six-pack abs… that’s my boy.


G. rides right around the 50th% for both height and weight. Sometimes one number will slide up or down a bit, but never significantly, and she follows a very steady “middle-of-the-road” curve.


And then there’s C. She’s actually never the shortest in our class– her height places her in about the 10th% for her age. Her weight hovers on that bottom line, but that’s HER line. She’s healthy and it’s fine. She’s so fine-boned, she comes across as very tiny and delicate, but she’s totally healthy and that is just who she is.


G. weighs exactly the same as C. right now.


Honestly, it threw me when the nurse told me G’s weight because it sounded so familiar to me, but I couldn’t figure out why. Finally, we sorted it out– my girls are the same weight, to the pound.


Now, to be honest, that’s kind of comical. I mean, G. is three and a half years younger than C. Surely no one would expect them to perfectly balance a teeter totter!


And, right now, they think it’s cool. They both get a kick out of the fact that they share a number on the scale. And that makes me smile.


But I also worry.


Because there’s a part of me that suspects the day is going to come when G’s number passes C’s. Maybe even next year. I anticipate there will come a day when my “average-sized”, incredibly capable gymnast who’s so amazingly strong her coach calls her “Muscles” will be heavier than her willow-wispy older sister.


And I wonder how that will make her feel.


Our children are all healthy. They’re also all well within what any doctors consider “healthy weights.” Not even once has anyone expressed the slightest hint of concern over G’s size. She’s, well, she’s kind of “average”, really. That’s what the 50th percentile is, after all, right?


She’s healthy. She’s strong. She should be wildly proud of all her strong body can do.


But… will she?


Or will she fret that she’s “big” compared to her whip-slim sis? Will it no longer be “cute” or “funny” when people point out that she’s just as heavy as someone years older and inches taller than her?


Even a fit woman who wears a size eight can feel big next to the lady who wears a size two.


And that’s so sad.


Right now, it’s all good. And we’re not making an issue about their being the same weight. We try hard to emphasize how proud we are of all of them for eating good foods and being active. The focus needs to be on health and not size.


Yet, as I watch my youngest child pull herself up onto a tree limb with strong, capable shoulders, I see the muscles in her back bunch. I watch her toned thighs engage as she climbs and I’m in awe of her abilities…


… but those abilities, that muscle, make her heavier.


And I worry that, one day, that number being more will make her feel like less.

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2 comments to A Weighty Issue

  • Laraba

    Same thing has happened here. Our eldest (a girl) is 14, 95 lbs, 5 ft. 4 inches tall. Skinny as a rail. Second child age 13 (also a girl) is a tad TALLER than her older sister, and 115 lbs! She’s not fat in any way. She’s very healthy and very tall. And her older sister is wispy!

    And the 3rd child, is an 11 year boy who is only 73 lbs! He is also wispy.

    We talk and talk and talk about body image and about how our culture is messed up about what constitutes a “good looking” body. I tell the kids about how when I was in Bolivia, South American (back in the 1970′s), being plump was considered beautiful because (as it was a poor country) being plump was hard to achieve.

    So far, our 13 year old seems totally happy with being 20 lbs heavier than her 14 year old sister. Actually, the 14 year old is the one upset because she doesn’t like being a little shorter than her younger sister :-).

    Since the culture is so messed up, I think it wise as parents to talk about this issue a fair amount. Our situation is unusual in that we homeschool so they aren’t exposed to the same culture many ps kids are. Whether that is good or bad can be debated, of course! But I am thankful that our teen girls are, so far, very sensible about body image. I pray pray pray that continues.

  • mary

    Years ago when we learned that our 3rd child was going to be bigger than his “big” sister I started talking it up. She was following her own curve below the bottom line of the charts, and since it did follow the curve the doctor was not worried.

    He passed her up early, but she was prepared. Later her two youngest brothers passed her up, that was harder but she knew it would happen. This last year her younger sister passed her, I think that has been the hardest but as we did talk it up and made sure she was expecting it, it hasn’t been as hard as it could have been.

    Of my 6 kids, in height order: #5,#3,#4,#1(all boys), #6,#2(the girls). Their ages: 26,24,21,17,14,12. The last two are the only ones still showing growth, and I expect that to stop in the next couple of years. Kids are fun.

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