My Son Is Not a Fucking Sumo Wrestler

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Mark and I at the Château, Nantes, July 2013

Mark and I at the Château, Nantes, July 2013

People are weird.

Well, not you, obviously, but the other people.

When we were in Nantes, I visited a somewhat trendy and fancy baby clothing shop. It was one of these cute little boutiques around the Château des Ducs, the kind I never set a foot in because 1) they are pricey 2) the owner jumps on you as soon as you walk in and follow your every move.

Against my better judgment I pushed the door with Mark in the stroller.

“How old is he?” the salesperson, presumably the owner of the shop, asked me as soon as I entered.

“Nine months old”, I replied, eyeing the rack of clothes and trying to see the price tag.

Yes, definitely too expensive. I am not spending 30 euro on a onesies that will be peed on, poop on, spit on.

“Oh, you need a big size for that big boy!” the owner said. “Here, we have these t-shirts… these are toddler sizes but he will never fit 9-12 month clothes.”

I nodded absentmindedly as she started to pick a few clothes from the rack.

“That would be too small… that would be too small too…” the owner kept on muttering, slightly annoyed.

“Oh, this is the cutest pair of jeans. Look!”

She held a pair of baby-sized blue jeans in front of me, waiting for my approval.

“Lovely!” I claimed.

She took another look at Mark and sighed. “But there is no way he can fit skinny jeans. No way. I mean, look at his legs! Chubby, chubby, chubby!”

I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. Skinny jeans? For a baby? Seriously?

First of all, just the name of this particular cut annoys me—“skinny”. Second, who on earth would be crazy enough to wrestle a baby into a snug pair of jeans? Just putting a diaper on Mark is a challenge, he moves all the time!

And what the hell am I supposed to say to that? “Oh, don’t worry, I’ll put him on a diet and I’ll be back in a week—he will fit the pants!” Or maybe “That’s just too bad my baby is too fat for your designer clothes!”

It’s bad enough we, grownups, have to bow to the tyranny of dress sizes, now apparently babies have to as well!

The worst part was, the shop owner seemed to be truly sorry that Mark couldn’t fit the jeans!

The second anecdote occurred this morning in Ottawa. I was waiting for my turn at the cash register, a basket full of food in my hand and a somewhat cranky Mark in the stroller. The customer before me was taking forever because she was applying for a Walmart credit card.

I was trying to calm Mark down when she noticed him.

“Sorry”, I said. “He is usually pretty quiet but we just came back from holidays and he is a bit tired.”

“Man, look at this big boy!” she said. “He is big! What are you going to be when you grow up? A sumo wrestler or something?”

I bit my tongue and faked a smile. “My son is not a fucking sumo wrestler!” I protested inwardly.

Yes, Mark is a big boy. He is not a monster, though. He is about 9.5 kilos, 70 centimetres tall, and he is doing fine, thank you very much. He has baby fat, pudgy little legs and arms. Sometime I call him “my little Buddha.”

And you know what? That’s fine. He is a baby. He is supposed to have fat, he is supposed to be chubby.

When he was born, he weighed 2.75 kilos. All along the pregnancy, doctors were concerned about his weight, claiming he wasn’t big enough. After he was born, he wasn’t gaining weight fast enough and the pediatrician wanted me to have him weighted at the clinic every three days. Boy, the pressure! Each time the doctor put him on the scale, my heart stopped for a second as I waited for the digital numbers to settle down. Gained a few grams? I was congratulated—the doctor made me feel like I did my job as a mother. Didn’t gain? I should try harder, feed him more, never skip a meal, wake him up to eat.

Eventually, I switched to formula and stopped worrying when his newborn clothes became too small. I stopped weighting him. He looked healthy, wasn’t dehydrated, had energy, was opening up to the world—these are the signs of a healthy baby, right?

During his last checkup, at six months old, I proudly told the doctor his weight. “That’s just a little bit below the curve,” she claimed. Feng and I looked at each other, slightly taken aback. “How big babies are supposed to be here?” I asked later in the elevator. “Seriously, he looks fine! It’s never good enough!”

And now that he finally gained weight, random people apparently think he is too chubby… and that it is okay to make comments about it.

Don’t get me wrong—I am not a very politically correct person and I like to call a spade a spade. But when did it become okay to comment on people’s appearance like that?

It’s not like I am offended or anything. But I don’t think it’s very healthy to start telling a kid he is too fat or too skinny. The fact that Mark doesn’t understand doesn’t make it okay.

I still remember being labelled as “the fat one” when I was a kid, while my sister was “the skinny one”. And it wasn’t a good thing either way—we were both self-conscious. Looking back, we were just normal kids, with different body types, nothing extreme.

I do believe that keeping a healthy weight is important but there is no magic number and nutrition is more than just what the scale says—or what kind of jeans cut you fit.

Same goes for babies.

So leave us alone!

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

29 Comments

  1. And now I understand why my sister-in-law got offended when I called her chubby 10 months-old “little buddha” (yes, me too). But I really didn’t mean it in the wrong way, just he is super chubby and super cute and at 10 months-old it is totally ok. I mean, who wants a skinny, unhealthy baby? I never knew people could say that in a “your baby is too fat” way. This is beyond stupid.

    • Coming from a loved one, I really don’t mind. It’s just strangers’ out of the blue comments that bug me a bit. Come on, he is a chubby and he does look like a little Buddha! But there is a way to say it.

  2. I agree 100% with you here. My boys were all born one month early, but healthy, if not a bit “underweight” (duh… they were premature!). It was very frustrating to have people tell me “they are so small/tiny”! Unfortunately people judgment’s does not stop there; because someone has a child or grandchild does not suddenly make one an expert in child rearing!!! Unless I ask for an opinion (or read about it 😉 ), I don’t necessarily want to know everybody’s experience in the subject. Over here I get “the look” when I say that we don’t give processed sugar to our kids … “what!!? no sweets? no cake? no ice-cream? no pop?” (no it does not make us bad parents!) *sigh*

    • I hear you! Apparently, it’s never good enough, people always comment on how big/small babies look. And as a mother, you feel bad either way!

  3. Yes babies are suppose to fat on them, that is what makes them babies! We had the hardest time finding jeans for our baby boy as they were all skinny and he could not fit into them. Babies need to have comfy clothes especially when they start crawling and walking!
    Mark is fine just the way he is, smiling, adorable and healthy baby 🙂

  4. Oh my god. This reminds me of the news article I think I read a while ago about how the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch is so unapologetic and says that his clothes don’t have XL sizes because he doesn’t want those people to wear his clothes. Everything has to be small now, and even babies apparently. I don’t understand why people forget that there’s a normal distribution for most things, including human body size.

  5. Mon Dieu que les gens sont méchants! 🙁 T’es bonne Zhu parce que moi je pense que je lui aurais fait bouffer sa criss de carte de chez Walmart! Non chu pas si méchante, je lui aurais juste dit “Va don’ chier!” 😉

    T’en fais pas pour le poids de Mark, nous aussi ça a toujours été un “combat” avec le poids de Kylian, à 9 mois il pesait 11kg, il était juste un poil au dessus de la courbe de poids, et le médecin avait noté dans son carnet de santé “discret surpoids”… et tu vois je m’en rappelle encore après 11 ans… Comme quoi ceux qui donne leur opinion sur un bébé, qu’il est trop ci, trop ça, c’est directement les parents qui sont attaqués, je trouve ça vraiment déplacé de faire ce genre de remarques.

    Mais bon, il s’affinera avec le temps, c’est normal pour un bébé d’être un chouille potelé 🙂 Ca prouve qu’il est en bonne santé et c’est ça le plus important 🙂

    Gros bisous 🙂

    • Ah les carnets de santé français… je crois que j’ai jeté le mien, traumatisé par des commentaires à la con lors des visites médicales.

  6. You’re absolutely right: People are weird! Mark is adorable, happy, healthy and full of energy. That’s what counts! And he will lose his baby fat soon enough, once he’s walking…

  7. That is so horrible (although I had to giggle a little at the title). If it helps, I don’t think he looks fat?! How on Earth can a baby be fat??!! Any baby?!! My nephew was considered Over weight, he just kind of stretched up and it fell in the right places. No baby is ever fat. It is a totally awful concept!

    • Fat, not fat, I really don’t care much, seriously. He is chubby, and I like that. He is also active and eats well, that’s what matters the most to me!

  8. So one of my best friends just had a baby last November, making her very close to Mark’s age. All the doctors comment on how fat she is and that she needs to lose weight. This is ludicrous to me! Babies are meant to be chubby and soft. A naturally skinny baby has always been the strangest thing to me… I took one look at her baby when I met her for the first time this summer and said, “Your baby is perfectly healthy. Who cares what the doctors say!” I used to be such a fat baby that people would ask my mum “WHAT are you feeding her???” and the truth was that I just liked to eat, and I couldn’t walk yet. Once I learned to walk, I turned from fat baby into normal toddler, and so on and so forth. I can understand the concern for an underweight baby and the doctor insisting on the baby gaining some weight. I can also understand that you would be irritated at strangers commenting on his weight or size. While I don’t think I would do this to a stranger’s beautifully chubby baby and just say how big/fat/etc they are, I think people generally like a chubby baby, and I don’t think they say this to hurt or insult you or to even be offensive. I think chubby, happy babies make grownups happy.

    • Comments usually don’t bother me much and I wasn’t really offended (even on Mark’s behalf). But I do find slightly disturbing that we start labelling people, fat, skinny, whatever, that young. Labels are wrong in the first place, but they sound even more cruel on babies!

  9. I just hate it when the sales personnel kept following me around and just won’t leave me alone as if I am going to shop-lift or something. I know they are being helpful but just a nod to acknowledge would be enough so I think she is really annoying and rude passing comments as such.

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  11. Your Friendly Neighborhood Bookworm on

    Sorry ’bout that, nobody has the right to say something like that. Your baby isn’t fat, he’s just a little chubby, and babies are supposed to be chubby. Those people should just mind their own business- whenever I go into a store I always end up having to to into stealth mode so somebody doesn’t make me buy a hundred dollar pair of skinny jeans which I KNOW won’t fit me. Next time somebody calls your little angel fat just say something like, ”I thought the same thing about you,” And walk away.

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