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

Thank you

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, 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.

young Mike
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.