On Chaos Chronicles podcast 510, I talked about the controversial article in Vogue by Dara-Lynn Weiss about putting her 7 year old on a diet. I had the opportunity to read the Dara-Lynn Weiss article before the controversy hit the web, so I went in unbiased. My first thoughts when I read the article were this:
1. That little girl will spend her whole life watching her weight.
2. That mom needs to get her own eating issues under control so she can better help her daughter over the long haul.
I was sympathetic to the mom Dara-Lynn Weiss. Her daughter was obese, according to her doctor, thanks to a lifetime of loving food . As a result, Dara-Lynn worked with a nutritionist who put her daughter on a sensible eating plan for children modeled on Weight Watchers. She increased her activity and watched her snacking. On the surface, this mom was being pro-active about a real medical condition faced by her daughter and using the medical approach to deal with the problem. Along the year-long journey, this mom faced one obstacle I’ve been talking about for years: the overabundance of cookies, candy, cupcakes at every event attended by children. All in all, I thought she was trying to do the right thing, but maybe her methods could have been more holistic, upgrading the eating habits of the whole family along the way.
Is Dara-lyn Weiss a perfect mom? No, she is honest about her own weight issues and admits to scarfing down cupcakes in secret while withholding the forbidden food from her daughter. ( Much of the media and online pile-on around Vogue Diet Mom centers on her “depriving her daughter of cupcake”, as if the daily eating of cupcakes is a right for every American child. )
The whole controversy reinforces to me the odd relationship we have with kids and weight in this country. When they are babies, parents and grandparents brag about the birth weight of the baby, as if that signifies superior intelligence or genes. But we also see parents of overweight kids being stripped of the custody of their kids. Mrs. Obama is mocked for her efforts on behalf of healthy eating and getting kids moving while parents go to battle at PTA meeting for the right to bear cupcakes at in-class birthday parties. In the middle of those two positions, we see lots of American kids headed towards a lifetime of weight issues and a very scattershot approach to dealing with the real public health issues.
What’s worked with your kids when talking to them about the issues of weight? Moms of daughters, do you find yourself tip-toeing around this topic? Does it bring up issues for you you thought you’d dealt with in high school?
I’d love to hear from Mom and Dads who have successfully worked with their kids to get them into a healthy weight range . Let’s help each other help our kids.
Embracing my Chaos, Lian
The Vogue article is not available online, but you can read articles about the article here from the New York Times and here from Time Magazine by Judith Warner.