Julie Venn is teaching her daughters that “strong is beautiful, and weight means nothing” — so she was frustrated when a nurse body shamed her 13-year-old during her yearly checkup.
The personal trainer and mom of two went into the appointment excited to see how much her younger daughter, Riley, had grown in the past year.
“The coach in me has loved seeing her strength and size finally come along and the mom in me has loved watching this beautiful young girl begin to become a young woman,” Venn, 48, wrote in a Facebook post.
But when the nurse practitioner came into the room, Venn said that she immediately started questioning Riley — who plays softball and basketball — about her diet, exercise, sleep habits and school, before asking, “Tell me Riley, how can you explain all of this weight you’ve gained?”
The nurse goes on to say that based on her previous measurements, the amount of weight Riley gained doesn’t match up with her height.
“I LOST MY MIND,” Venn, who lives in Glenview, Illinois, wrote. “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!’ ”
Venn tells PEOPLE that Riley was “speechless” but handled the situation well. And after finishing up the examination, the nurse took Venn into a separate room, and asked why she had that reaction.
“I explained in no uncertain terms that she was out of line in the way she dealt with my daughter,” Venn wrote. “Our girls need to be empowered and supported and celebrated. They already have to compare themselves to the ridiculous social media bulls— standards.”
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Venn says that they won’t return to that doctor’s office, and believes the nurse was poorly trained.
“I think she said those things because she is ignorant and insensitive,” Venn tells PEOPLE. “Riley did gain weight this year. She also did grow like 4 inches. She definitely began to hit puberty. I believe this woman just has no clue. She’s never been properly trained and she was too lazy or misguided to do better.”
Venn decided to share their story in a parenting Facebook group because she knows how difficult body confidence can be at Riley’s age, and was blown away by the response.
“I’m shocked how many private messages I’ve received from women all over this country with similar stories that happened to them,” she says. “Many led to eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, lifelong body image issues and even suicide attempts. I thought the post might hit a nerve but am blown away at the viral run!”