Vogue Mom Who Put Daughter On A Diet Has Few Regrets, But Does Have a 'Heavy' Book
Dara-Lynn Weiss, who infamously outlined putting her 7-year-old daughter on a diet in the pages of Vogue, is promoting her new book The Heavy: a mother, a daughter, a diet, without her daughter at her side.
Weiss's story about how she struggled with her daughter's weight from a young age was both terrible and engaging. Here was a woman who was standing up against child obesity one salad at a time. But her methods which combined public shaming with verboten foods, seemed designed to blame the victim, and cause a life-long eating disorder (maybe for both of them).
Her goal was to make her daughter healthier, but her methods -- including grabbing a hot chocolate from her hands and dumping it in the garbage -- were questioned. Weiss says she made a parenting choice in the best interest of her daughter, and though it was unpopular, she would do it again.
Reading and listening to her interviews, I am not only struck by the intensely personal story of this mother and daughter's battle with weight (one which I think will be life-long) but also how complex the issue of weight in our society is.
Weiss says once she started to observe the amount of food (some healthy, some not) that surrounds her daughter and all kids, she realized how difficult the job of losing weight is. The culture was actively working against her, and she took the steps she felt she needed to do to ensure a healthy child. All parents restrict what their kids eat at some point -- each one of us says things like: eat your vegetables, no more candy, have something healthy. But when your kid is overweight, those simple statements take a more emotional toll and can get you nasty looks at birthday parties.
Is putting your child on a calorie-restricted diet, like the one advocated by Dr. Joanna Dolgoff, the doctor that Weiss consulted, the right way to go? It wouldn't be my inclination. If calorie-restricting diets worked in the long-term, than fewer adults would be overweight.
Obesity expert, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff is not an advocate of placing children on diets. (The two doctors squared off in this Huff-Po article). He says that the culture around us is so full of misinformation and mixed messages, that it is hard to separate the child from the unhealthy culture. He believes a balanced approach of food and exercise is the best route to take. (Freedhoff has also been a vocal critic of The Biggest Loser's inclusion of kids onto their show.)
Weiss stands by her choice, and is refusing to discuss her daughter's weight, other than to say it is healthy for her. She also refuses to bring her on any shows.
“I’m realizing that this is a parenting story,” she says, “about how what is best for your child is not always easy and sometimes feels mean.” In other words “this is my story, not Bea’s story. One day, if she wants to, she will have her own story to tell.”
If Bea ever gets pen to paper, I'm sure she will have a helluva story to tell. Because even if her mother did do the right thing, telling the whole world about it does more harm than good to a young girl struggling with weight.
What do you think? Did she do the right thing?
Photo credit: Amazon.com
Want more chaos? Last year, I asked if it was important to know the gender of our babies before they are born.