This little girl can’t stop gaining weight, but cruel trolls still call her fat
It's a fact that people who are overweight are often subjected to a daily torrent of fatphobic abuse from the general public. It's a vicious cycle since many people become obese due to binge eating provoked by stress and anxiety, and the depression and self-loathing brought about by bullying.
Often, people who mock and disparage fat people claim that they're justified in doing so because obese people have gotten that way by choice. If they didn't want to be mocked for being fat, their logic goes, then they shouldn't have chosen to gain weight by overeating and forgoing exercise. But what about someone who gains weight through no fault of their own, as a result of health issues beyond their control? Unfortunately, it seems as though they are subjected to the same level of treatment regardless.
Emma Heap's four-year-old daughter Emily Heap was born with a rare condition known as septo-optic dysplasia, caused by abnormalities in the pituitary gland and optic nerve, which means that her body is unable to produce the right hormones to regulate her weight, so she gains weight no matter what she eats. Despite the fact that Emily's obesity is glandular, Emma states that strangers still judge her and her daughter when they're out in public.
Commenting on her daughter's health issues, Emma stated: "I know that Emily is the weight of an eight-year-old, but the height of a four-year-old and, to a lot of people, she just looks like a fat kid. Until recently, she struggled to walk, partly because of her size, but also because she has low muscle tone. We had to take her around in a pram and people were always judging her as just being too fat to walk. None of this is Emily’s fault – there’s nothing we can do to stop her body piling on weight."
"When she was diagnosed, they told us about the weight gain. I think, at that stage, we thought it was the least of our worries, but as she’s got older, we’ve realised that is a huge problem, as her body just clings onto fat. No matter what she eats, or how much she exercises, her body doesn’t have the ability to break it down. I worry about the health risks of her obesity. She is at huge risk of type 2 diabetes and if she had that on top of everything else, it would just make everything more difficult. We are discussing whether to start her on some anti-diabetes medications. I also worry about her developing heart problems."
She added: "She loves school, but it is difficult for a small local school to get their heads around Emily’s medical needs. Her vision has also been affected. She can see but she needs a larger font. She is doing really well though ... I do worry about when she is a little bit older, in case other kids start being horrible to her. She’ll be judged by the outside world, because of her size. I know it will happen and there’s nothing I can do about it, other than give her as much strength as I can ... We will sit in a cafe having lunch and I will see people staring at her eating and judging her for her size. I don’t think she notices yet, but I find that difficult."
Emma, Emily and Emily's father Roger have all received support from the Pituitary Foundation and Emma plans to run the London Landmarks Half Marathon to raise money for the charity. To sponsor her, please visit her JustGiving page here.