Woman Accused of 'Fat Shaming' Stepdaughter, 5, Over Birthday Cake Drama

Some may say birthday celebrations are not complete without a cake and candles to blow out. But for one little girl, her usual tradition was ruined due to her stepmom's concern about her weight.

In a viral Reddit post on the AITA (Am I The A******?) subforum, u/Economy_Insurance434 expressed her concerns about her 5-year-old stepdaughter Gwen's weight. She said that Gwen spends two weekends a month at the home she shares with her husband and Gwen's father, Dirk, and her two sons, aged 10 and 8.

"We are a healthful household and we teach moderation and controlling how much we take when we have treats. We are also very active and every day strives to get the boys moving," the Redditor said.

However, Dirk's ex apparently does things differently and the stepmother estimates that Gwen "is about 20 [pounds] heavier than a 5-year-old girl is supposed to be."

Close of a Slice of Cake
This stock image shows a girl eating a slice of cake on a fancy plate. A woman on Reddit has been slammed for not getting her stepdaughter a cake for her sixth birthday, encouraging her to make a "good" food choice instead. iStock / Getty Images

According to a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity affects 14.7 million children and adolescents aged 2-19 in the United States.

The stepmom wrote that she attempts to teach Gwen about healthy eating and encourages exercise when she visits.

"We have the boys play with her so she's getting active, and we make a distinction between foods that are healthy and ones that aren't," she wrote. "When I see one of the kids reaching for a 'treat' food in the pantry I'll ask, 'would you like to make a healthier choice?' Gwen is really getting it, she's always going for better choices now and is also asking for fruit at home which is really good."

But recently, the stepmom's approach to healthy eating has caused a stir as she asked Gwen to make a "healthier choice" on her sixth birthday. The schoolgirl opted for a low-fat ice cream that she seemed happy with instead of a birthday cake.

The Redditor said: "Until the next day after she went back to mom. Her mom called us furious, she said when Gwen got home and she asked about her birthday with us and her cake, Gwen started crying because she really did want cake but didn't want to 'make a bad choice.' She accused me of fat-shaming her and her daughter and that I owe her a cake and a big apology."

The woman insisted at the end of the post, which currently has 8,500 upvotes, that Gwen did have the option for a cake.

'The Child Is Likely to Develop a Sense of Shame'

London-based nutritionist and eating disorder specialist, Marcelle Rose told Newsweek that "There is a fine line between encouraging healthy eating with your child and promoting an unhappy relationship with food. In this case, I do believe there is the potential for the child to develop problems around food and body image. The child is likely to develop a sense of shame and will learn to equate her body as being a 'bad body' and that she can't ever eat 'unhealthy food.'

"The majority of my clients who are over 18 had body image and food issues stemming from childhood. Very often it's clear that parental comments (usually from a misguided place of love) and family culture, played a significant role in the development of their eating disorder.

"As parents, we can help our children cultivate a balanced relationship with food—and working on our own can be an essential part of the work. It's important that we accept our child's body as it is. At the same time, we can practice healthy habits, such as balanced eating, healthy sleep patterns, and joyful movement.

"Modeling balanced eating behavior is essential," she said. "Children notice if their mum is skipping meals or restricting their food in some way. How we talk to, and in front of our kids about food, weight or dieting can shape the beliefs of that young person for life. We want to avoid putting a 'value' on food (i.e. if it is good or bad) but instead focus on what you can add in to create an interesting diverse diet."

Rose encourages parents to teach their children how to cook and get creative with a variety of foods. She states it is important to make family meals "enjoyable, inclusive and stress-free."

Over 5,000 Redditors have commented on the post and it seems they agree with Rose.

The top comment has 48,600 votes, it said: "YTA (You're The A******). She's 5. Give the child goddamn cake on her birthday and then go for a family walk after. Also FYI, the good choice/ bad choice talk is just going to give her body image issues for the rest of her life."

Another popular comment with 18,900 votes said: "This. The poor child is 5 years old. OP (original poster) needs to just stop commenting on her stepdaughter's diet, period. Just based on OP's attitude here, I'm worried this little girl is going to develop an ED (eating disorder) by her pre-teens. I can absolutely understand why the Mom was furious. Dad needs to step up and set some hard boundaries with his wife."

Newsweek reached out to u/Economy_Insurance434 via Reddit for comment. We could not verify the details of the case.

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