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Mom Called Out For Fat-Shaming Young Stepdaughter With Low-Fat Treat Instead Of Birthday Cake

A girl and her birthday cake
mrs / Getty Images

Food is a complex topic, especially surrounding young kids.

Opinions vary wildly, and the science is always being refined, so it can be challenging to form any healthy relationship with what we eat.

Redditor and Original Poster (OP)  Economy_Insurance434 thought she was helping when she set boundaries for what her stepdaughter was eating but faced some backlash for the interference.

So, she came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit to see what the internet had to say.

She asked:

“AITA for not having cake for her birthday?”

OP started with some background. 

“I (34f) have two boys (10m and 8m), and my husband “Dirk” (40m) has a daughter from another relationship “Gwen” (just turned 6f).”

“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 strive to get the boys moving.”

“However, Gwen is only here two weekends a month, and her mother has the exact opposite attitude.”

OP wasn’t subtle about her views.

“In all honesty, that woman’s blood type is probably ketchup. Similarly, Gwen is about 20lb heavier than a 5-year-old girl is supposed to be.”

“It makes me sad for this child and her health, so when we get her, I try to teach Gwen about healthy eating and moving around.”

“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.”

“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?'”

“And 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.”

OP then got to the situation at hand.

“Gwen’s birthday ended up falling on one of her weekends with us, and while we were talking about what kind of cake to have, I asked Gwen about the healthier choice.”

“My reasoning is, unfortunately, she’s still getting all that garbage at home, and it’s just not good for a growing girl.”

“She agreed, and we decided to have some low-fat ice cream so she can still have a sweet treat. It’s a brand Gwen loves and asks for every time she’s here, so she was happy with it.”

“Until the next day after she went back to mom.”

“Her mom called us furious. She said that when Gwen got home, 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.”

“I’m just looking out for the health of a child in my care, but I never said Gwen couldn’t have cake, and she could have had one if she said she wanted one.”

OP was left to wonder,

“I suggested sticking to ice cream because I care. But did I go about it in a TA way?”

Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for judgment.

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors decided: YTA

Some pointed out the damage done.

“This is how eating disorders are created in children.”

“She isn’t old enough to understand ‘making healthy choices’ and having food in the house you shame the kids for eating is huge no. YTA” ~ RussNP


“It was her birthday. Asking her ‘would you like to make a healthier choice’ is manipulative.”

“You’re telling her she’s wrong and choosing what YOU want to make YOU happy. You’re setting them up for food issues.” ~ BreastClap

“This question, ‘would you like to make a healthier choice’, carries so much shaming it makes me feel horrible for the child.”

“What child can, with a clear conscience, choose the ‘bad option’ after being asked that?”

“This is not offering a choice – this is ‘are you choosing that? Your choice is bad. You choose wrong. What you are doing is wrong. This is what I want you to take because it’s the only right thing to do.”‘

“After being told this all the time, how can they ever eat even a tiny bit of anything considered ‘unhealthy’ without feeling tremendous amounts of shame and guilt?”

“This is not the right way to go, not at all.” ~ Sigurdeus

“Yeah, like if she’s going to ask that every time the child wants a cosmic brownie or something, just don’t have cosmic brownies in the house.”

“Or save them for special occasions.”

“But you KNOW her sons are going to town on all the snacks they want because they have a higher metabolism.”

“There’s nothing wrong with giving a child healthy snacks. But making them second guess it every time they want a treat and thinking a treat is ‘bad’ will cause really, really unhealthy patterns.” ~ offbrandbarbie

Others thought compromise was the way to go.

“Vegan or gluten-free cake often uses stuff like ground beets as a base for the batter.”

“Sounds disgusting at first, but it works extremely well. The cakes are moist, and you can’t tell if you don’t know.”

“I’m neither vegan nor gluten intolerant, but I like to look up recipes like this because you can make cakes that are very low in calories compared to a real cake, and it’s not stuffed with sugar and the likes.”

“Also, it’s one cake.”

“The stepdaughter isn’t going to eat the whole thing by herself. Let her have 1 or 2 slices.”

“That’s fine in moderation for a special occasion.” ~ 3KittenInATrenchcoat

“Also, would it be that hard to make a healthy cake?”

“A cake doesn’t have to contain a ton of sugar, and it doesn’t have to be covered completely in frosting.”

“OP is talking about low-carb ice cream but can’t be bothered to get a simple cake without that much sugar.”

“If she can use Reddit, she clearly has access to the internet. Just google low-sugar cake recipes. Op clearly has a personal issue with the girl.” ~ Titariia

Several pointed out how skewed OP’s perspective was.

“‘Also, would it be that hard to make a healthy cake'”

“Ignoring that, it’s her f*cking birthday. It’s literally one day a year.”

“Give her the damn cake.” ~ GodspeedandGoodnight


“She’s six. It was her birthday.”

“You should’ve made her a cake.”

“And furthermore, you’re setting her up for a restrictive eating disorder by policing all her food choices.”

“If you have such a ‘healthful home,’ why are there any accessible snacks that the kids shouldn’t ever eat?”

“If you only have her four days a month, the food she eats with you isn’t going to counteract the 27 other days of poor diet. If her dad is concerned, he can discuss it with her mother and pediatrician.”

“All that said though, this reads like a troll post bc it’s hard to believe someone could be so heartless to a little girl.” ~ shellofthemshellf

Of course, the personal stories were rough.

“I wouldn’t count out the horribleness people can do to kids.”

“I was 6 or maybe 7 the first time my paternal grandmother asked me, ‘GLM, when are you going to lose weight?’ It didn’t stop there.”

“My mother was ALWAYS on some diet or another.”

“I started Weight Watchers at the ripe age of 12 because puberty hit, and my body said to hold tight to the fat!”

“I started binging – but not purging because that was an ED; I learned that on Full House! – around age 13. I would hoard food away from the family and secretly eat it.”

“I’m 44 now; I still have problems with my relationship to food, moderation, and putting into practice what I know to be healthy eating.” ~ TheGreatLabMonkey

“You’d be surprised.”

“I watched a mom refusing her little daughter seconds because it would make her fat while the girl said age was still hungry.”

“It made my blood boil.” ~ tomato_joe

Commenters doubted the veracity of some of OP’s own judgments.

“I have my doubts about this girl actually being overweight for her age based on the rest of OP’s post.”

“If I was placing bets, my money would be on OP guesstimating Gwen’s weight (and ‘diagnosing’ her as ‘overweight’) based solely on appearance.” ~ MildlyShadyPassenger

“Is it really a ‘poor diet’ with mom, though?”

“I feel like we shouldn’t take the word of OP, who gave a 6-year-old diet food instead of cake for her birthday.”

“In her mind, ‘poor diet’ might mean the kid gets toast (carbs! Horror! Satan!) or canned veggies instead of almond milk and organic free range low sugar baby carrots.” ~ Lulu_531

Guilt and Shame should not be associated with food.


“You guilted her into not having cake…she doesn’t feel safe to stand up to your bullying.”

“Yes, healthy choices are good, but you are using shame, and that sucks.”

“You do owe her an apology. Cake on her birthday should not be guilted.”

“Your actions will lead to secret binge eating and lying and hiding food…not a healthy thing at all.” ~ brandnewsquirrel


“She’s six years old, and by asking ‘would you like to make a healthier choice?’ you’re guilt tripping her into picking something healthier.”

“She probably feels like she has to agree with you.”

“I’m all for healthy eating and teaching kids how to live a healthy lifestyle, but just remember they are just kids.” ~ ThinkSkirt8708

What we eat and how we eat it can be a personal, very complicated choice.

Food sensitivity, upbringing, mental health, and many other factors can influence the decisions we make about nutrition and how we relate to it.

Starting that conversation in childhood can be a helpful way to ensure a strong understanding of what our bodies need and want – but it can also be confusing or scary.

And fear is never a good relationship to have with food.

She’s six. Give her the cake.

Written by Frank Geier

Frank Geier (pronouns he/him) is a nerd and father of three who recently moved to Alabama. He is an avid roleplayer and storyteller occasionally masquerading as a rational human.