Yesterday a woman in North Dakota made a stir by announcing she plans to give the overweight trick-or-treaters who come to her door a note to take home to their parents that says how irresponsible it was for them to let their child go out in search of candy. Like a lot of people I was upset by the gall of this woman, and felt terrible for the kids who will have the misfortune of knocking on her door tonight. Here’s the text of the note she plans to give out:
Happy Halloween and Happy Holidays Neighbor!
You are probably wondering why your child has this note; have you ever heard the saying “It takes a village to raise a child”? I am disappointed in “the village” of Fargo Moorhead, West Fargo.
You child is, in my opinion, moderately obese and should not be consuming sugar and treats
to the extent of some children this Halloween season.
My hope is that you will step up as a parent and ration candy this Halloween and not allow your child to continue these unhealthy eating habits
Note: the typos and grammatical errors in the above note are the author’s.
My first thought when I heard about this was to wonder how she could pass judgement so easily on the kids who will come to her door. While the trick or treaters may outwardly look “moderately obese” in her eyes, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re abusing food. Some could have a glandular problem, some could be genetically predisposed to be heavier, some could have recently lost fifty pounds and plan to eat only a responsible amount of candy, some could have parents who desperately want their child to be healthy but aren’t going to force them to skip Halloween, and some could have even gained weight because of cancer treatments. This woman won’t know anything about the individual circumstances of the kids she plans to hand this note to.
But what if it is a food issue? What if the kid and/or his family have issues with food and abuse it in the way she imagines? What business is that of hers? Also, what good does she think she’s going to do with this note? Does she really think handing a piece of paper to someone is going to change a life-long, ingrained problem? Because it’s not. Overweight people know they’re overweight and don’t need anyone to point out the obvious. All this note is going to do is shame them, which may be her goal all along.
If she really cared about how the village of Fargo Moorhead was raising its children and wanted to help improve eating habits and health, she would join Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative, visit PreventObesity.net, or donate her time and money to any number of similar organizations. But all of that, I imagine, is too much work for her. She just wants to hand off her smug note and be done with it.
What upsets me the most about this, though, is that if I’d knocked on her door as a child she undoubtedly would have handed me a note.
Me at 13, the year I dressed as Dracula and won best costume at school.
Looking back as an adult I have nothing but wonderful memories of trick or treating with my family and friends, but if I’d received a note like that it would be the moment I remember the most, and that’s sad.
Halloween is the one night a year an overweight kid is allowed to be someone else. For 364 days overweight kids are called names, treated like lepers by the opposite sex, and told “You don’t need that” whenever they try to eat anything, but Halloween is the one night they can stop being the “fat kid” and instead be a pirate, monster, president, you name it. Halloween is supposed to be a special night, but this woman might ruin it for a lot of kids. Here’s hoping she’s heard the criticism of her plan since she announced it and has decided not to hand out her note, or better yet, to just shut off her light.
Man, they used to just hand out raisins.
But seriously, this is concern trolling of the highest form! I highly encourage healthy eating habits, but deciding who gets mean notes based on her visual assessment is … beyond words. Also, thinness does not equal health.
What an absolute cow! I hope her “village” have armed themselves with plenty of eggs for this evening: elderly ones for a preference! Frankly large amounts of sweets are bad for any child, so if she feels it’s her job to be health police, just hand out fruit or simply nothing at all. I know Halloween is a huge thing in the US, but I don’t think it’s actually compulsory, is it?
Hope that next time she is in the supermarket, someone follows her around and gives her post-its on the health properties on all the food she puts in the trolley…….Just an idea, people of North Dakota!
The other rather disturbing message this sends is that the only thing you have to worry about if you eat too much candy is getting fat! Not only is this an appalling way to go about anything, the fact that it discriminates against only children she believes to be obese means that, what, skinny kids don’t have to think about healthy eating too? I struggle each and every day to get my students to understand that you don’t have to be outwardly overweight for the food you eat to have a drastic effect on your health, we really don’t need ill-conceived, mean-spirited ‘educational’ promotions to perpetuate the myth!
Lee Cockrum says:
This really ticked me off too. Who is she to decide who is obese?! If it is cold out someone could have 3 sweaters under their costume, and they would get a letter?? And besides it is not her job to “police” the weight of other people’s children. If she is bothered, she can hand out non food treats such as pencils, stickers, glow sticks etc. or better yet, turn off her light and go to bed.
As a child, I had heavy years and thin years thanks to a thyroid that worked when it wanted to. Regardless of a heavy time or thin time, my parents maintained healthy eating habits at our house – soft drinks were a treat, veggies every day, no candy, etc. But I can assure you that a note from her during one of my heavy times as a child would have crushed me.
I am now an obese adult. Guess what? I know I am and don’t need a note to tell me. I see it everytime I walk past a mirror and I feel it everytime I work out at the gym with my trainer. What she may not know is that some children and adults work hard – all the time – to lose or maintain weight and NOTHING short of drastic surgery will help.
I have a friend who is pencil thin, but my diet is healthier than hers. She eats ice cream and chips for dinner and doesn’t gain weight. But this idiot in ND would brand my friend the healthier person.
I’m sick of trolls. I was happier when they just posted snarky online comments. But real life? Go away.
I recently gained 41 lbs during my pregnancy. I lost 20 the first month, then gained 10 back. I am working on it, but it is taking awhile. I’m not obese, but I am aware that I am heavier than I would like to be. I don’t need a letter to tell me!
Yeah, we talked about this at work yesterday and decided that if she was really that concerned about healthy living, she could hand out jump ropes! That is better healthy-village-building than a snotty note that is bound to upset kids AND their parents.
Health is so, so much more important than just “no candy for you.” It is clear that she doesn’t understand this. I kind of got the impression reading some articles about it that she just wants to tick people off, instead of really being a positive influence for change.
I like the idea of handing out jump ropes–that would be a nice, positive approach!
One more thing to add about her judging with her eyes and not knowing the children is that my 2 went through phases where just before they took another growing spurt (and they have had many), they gained weight. Just after they gained weight, they shot up about 2 inches and slimmed right down again. I used to worry when I saw them gaining that weight as I have always been heavier set. I never have pop (soda) in our house but they were allowed to have Kool-aid except that I always made it with 1/2 the sugar it called for. No chips or candy in our house and we didn’t have dessert after every meal. My children ate healthy but there were times that if she saw them, I am sure she would have thought that they were “moderately obese” yet now they stand 6 feet tall and have 32″ waists. She would probably call them too skinny now.
In my opinion, the lady is right off her rocker and really just needs to mind her own busines. She is afraid to show her face or give out her address. Why would that be if she really thought that she was doing this for the good of the people. Hopefully she will realize her mistake and just shut her light out.
Like so many others, I too am appalled at this woman’s gall. What’s next on her list? Handing out Mary Kay samples to the kids she deems “ugly”?. And for those of us who live in the Midwest and are in the “know” about the weather, some costumes are made to fit over a heavy coat, which could bulk up a “regular” sized kid, making them appear to be overweight. In any case, it’s none of her business. She also has several options other than passing out a note, such as non-food items or sugarless candy. Sounds like she’s just a cheapskate. Hope her house gets egged, with Egg Beaters of course, just to keep it healthy!
Great post Mike! I hope she sees it!!!
I really hope she does not follow through with this unbelievably hurtful plan.
If her concern was truly for the health of the children in her community, she would pass out healthy alternative to candy. Sounds like her intentions run a little more toward passing judgements and being cruel.
Also, my son tends to get a little squat before he gets a little taller. How would she know where he is in his growth cycle or what is normal for him.
When I was eleven I lost my mother. That next summer I gained a lot of weight. I was depressed and a letter like this might have sent me over the edge. With all of the anti-bullying campaigns out there how can anyone think that this is alright. A
This is great! Depriving these kids of candy on ONE night is not going to solve any overeating issues…so she’s not even helping. Ugh!
As I live only 25 minutes from Fargo, I have heard all about this woman. She was on the local news with her face not shown, only her voice. What a grinch! And think of how those children are going to feel if any of them actually read the letter. I am giving out candy as usual and I highly doubt I could change anyone. Plus that’s the fun part!
On the other hand, Michelle Obama’s healthy food in school program has kids starving by they time they get home. The children here have outside recess and physical education and work hard during the day. The lunches have gotten so skimpy that a teenager would not be able to work through the day. So on that I do NOT agree with her. You also have to feed their minds and bodies with fuel for the day.
Hugs from Minnesota,
I am in elementary and intermediate schools in NE PA throughout the school year as a private duty nurse and it is sickening how much lowfat milk, bananas, apple slices, vegetables and carrot sticks go from cafeteria to tray and into the trash completely untouched- unless they were opened and played with. The teachers and cafeteria staff try to salvage what unopened packages they can – not to resell but to keep on hand for hungry, more needful kids but I bet 75% of it is wasted in the end. Most of the kids don’t even eat most of their bought lunches.
I really hope she doesn’t do this. I’m actually very upset by the idea. Growing up I was a pretty skinny kid, but my youngr sister was a bit overweight. We ate all the same stuff — like you said, it’s not always about food. Being heavier than average can be such a blow to your self-esteem and the last thing a vulnerable child needs is an evil note like this. It makes me tear up imagining someone like my sister getting such a note — it would have been absolutely crushing and I can tell you right now, I would not have taken it quietly if this had been handed to my family. And for the record, my sister is now a fit, gorgeous adult. Sometimes all it takes is a little growing! How dare she even think about shaming innocent children in this way. It makes my blood boil.
Jordan Taylor says:
If I walked up to her door, both as a child or now as a 21 one year old, I’d get that note, too.
I’ve been overweight my entire life. I’ve never denied that fact; I have both a genetic disposition AND a struggle with overeating/ emotional and stress eating.
It’s been a lifelong struggle between me and my self esteem and that number on the scale. I have never been able to fully accept myself and who I am because of my weight, and I probably never will. I struggled with being the sweet fat kid my whole life, and living with a grandmother who did nothing but make my self esteem plummet about my weight and looks didn’t help. Now in college I’m working on losing the weight, but still- it’s hard. I could never have done this as a kid.
It’s a shame that this woman feels that it’s her duty to bring attention to the fact that a particular child is overweight- as IF we don’t know it already!! Does she think I DON’T notice the sneers, the jokes, the feeling of never finding “cute” clothes to wear in my size, the inability (at least for me) to take a decent picture, the uncomfortableness of sitting in certain chairs because I don’t have enough room…. the list goes on and ON.
Like you said, Mike- this is one night for kids to dress up and have fun. t’s the one night of the year I used to feel OK being a kid, because I got to sit around and eat candy and be silly like everyone else without getting picked on or whatnot.
Alienating kids that are already alienated on a daily basis is just plain evil. There are plenty of ways to go about this without hurting children- offer healthy snacks (to EVERYONE,not just overweight kids), or non-food items (jump rope idea above is cute!) or simply: turn your light off. It’s not worth it to open your home to trick or treaters if you’re going to pick on the ones that probably get picked on the most.
Thanks for posting this, Mike. It REALLY hits home, as you can tell.
Lisa F. says:
Unfortunately I think she’s getting exactly what she wants by all this media coverage: Attention. The sooner we stop talking about her, the more quickly she’ll go back under the rock she climbed out from.
Kathy Shipstad says:
I agree with you 100%. She does not know that poor kids “story” before she just assumes the worst! Cancer medications do awful things to kids. Bloating etc. What if that child was able to get to a few houses for his last Halloween and it was her. Makes me sick.
This lady is quite possibly attacking low income families because let’s face it, it’s cheaper to get a $1 double cheeseburger than it is to make a healthy homemade meal. So, how would this letter help them? What an asshole.
I was an overweight kid and if I got this letter, I would have hid it from my parents out of shame and then I never would have gone trick or treating again out of fear that is how everyone is viewing me. Then I would have been depressed all night and just eaten twice as much candy as I would have normally. Again, how is it helpful?
Your suggestions are great. How about even volunteering at schools, bringing in healthy, whole grain treats with natural sweeteners for parties? Or volunteering at PE classes to run alongside those heavier kids doing the mile, helping encourage them? Or addressing bullying in schools because I think it just makes kids think their situation is hopeless and they get depressed and eat more? If she feels so passionately, she could DO SOMETHING which is what she is telling these parents to do.
1) it could also be that the kid is still growing and pudge is natural on them 2) the woman doesn’t care about children, she cares about getting attention – who would have even known about this unless she had called the radio station to let them know her “plan”?! Perhaps SHE needs a letter…
You are probably wondering why you have this note; have you ever heard the term “attention whore”? I am disappointed that Fargo Moorhead, West Fargo would churn out such a person.
You have, in my opinion, an inflated sense of ego and should not be contacting others to share your myriad of opinions of other people or their behaviors on Halloween or any other day.
I hope that you will step up as a human and ration your egomaniacal behavior this Halloween and every other day and not allow your clearly overwhelming need to indulge in your egotistical habits and cease your spiral down this unhealthy path.
I will confess that ‘B***h’ comes to mind first, but my corrected self agrees with others that if she is concerned about childhood obesity, perhaps handing out raisins or pre-packed apple slices or skipping altogether and joining a campaign to teach healthy cooking and eating skills would be a better approach for her.
I was on steroid and hormone treatments during an already extremely stressful teenaged life and got up to 154 pounds by 16. By starving myself and getting into extreme exercising I got down to 112.
I was telling a coworker the other day how sad it was to see an elementary school boy who was easily 100 lbs overweight but conceded that maybe the child’s weight was medically or emotionally caused or the least of the family’s worries right now.
I live in Fargo, and heard about this via Facebook from a friend in AZ! The local news did an expose last night, and it turns out it was all a promotional scam. The news pointed out the radio station has done this type of thing before,last year a caller was on upset about the ‘Deer Crossing’ signs along local roads. The point of that caller was, “Why does the government make deer cross on highways, where cars are? Deers shouldn’t be allowed to cross the street, it just doesn’t make sense!”. So sadly a silly prank by a desperate station has caused all of this controversy. I grew up here (and was a chubby child!), and have only recently moved back, but Fargo is still the same friendly/welcoming/accepting wonderful town that I grew up in. From what I’ve heard, more people are now giving away more candy to kids tonight thanks to this prank, so Fargo nice is still going strong!
Mike, as Andrea noted, this is almost certainly a fake call/letter, orchestrated by the radio station. http://www.inforum.com/event/article/id/416910/
Another thing, my nephew has always been very thin. Four years ago had a brain aneurysm. He survived. (Thank God!) However, he was on steroids for six months. My normally thin nephew puffed up from the steroids. Once he was off of them, he went back to being very thin. But if he would have shown up at her doorstep during those six months, he would have got a letter! She has no idea what these people have going on in their lives! And bottom line, it’s not her place to decide this anyways.
I spent eight years on adult levels of steroids to control asthma. In the first two years, I was also hooked up to a nebulizer three times a day which completely sapped my energy. It’s insane that this woman thinks she has the right to judge anyone else, especially kids.
Well. I wonder if that village in Fargo realizes they have an idiot amongst them?
I totally agree with you. My daughter has a heart defect and medications for children with these conditions can often case edema, retention of water, which would make them look overweight. Chances are a few “heart” kids with edema will be trick or treating and it would be just awful if one of them, or anyone for that matter, were to receive this note. We can never really know what is going on inside a person.
I hope it was all a scam.
Plus, in the upper midwest, they could just have a parka on underneath their costume. What’s she going to do? Frisk them? Idiots.
When I heard about this letter a few days ago, all I could think of was being 8 years old and having recently gained over 30lbs from steroids I was taking to control asthma. I spent two years attached to a nebulizer three times a day, and the constant medications made me lethargic and gain weight much more rapidly than I should have. I remember being so self conscious, but as you said, Halloween was the one day I was allowed to be someone else which was great. The idea that this woman could be so callous and think that this could help anyone is absolutely mystifying. Who the hell made her queen of Halloween? Seriously. If you don’t want to give out candy, that’s perfectly fine. Turn your lights off and don’t answer the door. Or hey, of you want to promote healthy habits, hand out raisins, or apples or even toothbrushes- totally fine too. But don’t ruin Halloween. That’s just messed up.
I’d have gotten the note too, and so would my kids. And if my kids HAD gotten that note, I don’t know what I would have done but I do know that it would not have been mature or productive in any way. I would be SO angry. I wonder if she went through with it and if so, if her house was covered in eggs yesterday….
I wrote on this too prior to Halloween. I think she is just a big bully!