In a time when childhood obesity is rampant–due mostly to a reliance on fast food and digital devices rather than vegetables and exercise–it’s not uncommon to hear of a parent who takes a doctor’s advice to heart and puts their child on a strict diet.
But in the case of Dara-Lynn Weiss, who wrote an essay published in the April issue of Vogue about doing just that, the issue may have been taken to the extreme. Weiss is now facing huge backlash from the public regarding her parenting methods towards daughter Bea, 7, and the terminology she uses in the essay.
In the piece, Weiss explains that her daughter’s pediatrician warned her that, at 4’4” and 93 pounds, Bea was considered clinically obese and was potentially at risk for future complications like high blood pressure and diabetes. While this may sound like a fairly severe diagnosis to some, it wasn’t the doctor’s words that have readers upset; it’s the way Bea’s mother handled them.
“I once reproachfully deprived Bea of her dinner after learning that her observation of French Heritage Day at school involved nearly 800 calories of Brie, filet mignon, baguette, and chocolate,” Weiss says. “I stopped letting her enjoy Pizza Fridays when she admitted to adding a corn salad as a side dish one week. I dressed down a Starbucks barista when he professed ignorance of the nutrition content of the kids’ hot chocolate whose calories are listed as “120-210″ on the menu board: Well, which is it? When he couldn’t provide an answer, I dramatically grabbed the drink out of my daughter’s hands, poured it into the garbage, and stormed out.”
The goal was to get Bea to lose 16 pounds before the Vogue photo shoot, which she did. But at what cost? Certainly a child as young as 7 needs guidance in order to make better choices for themselves, but is this the right kind?
“That’s still me,” Bea said in the essay. “I’m not a different person just because I lost 16 pounds.”
“I protest that indeed she is different,” Weiss wrote. “At this moment, that fat girl is a thing of the past.”
Weiss recently struck a deal with Ballantine Books–a Random House imprint–to write about the experience. It’s tentatively titled, “The Heavy”.