vogue-mom-puts-7-year-old-on-a-diet

Vogue‘s Annual Shape issue has come under fire recently for stirring the pot around childhood obesity, a hot-button topic among American parents. The fashion glossy featured a gripping story by Dara-Lyn Weiss, who chronicles her efforts to keep her clinically obese 7 year-old daughter (93 lbs and 4’4” inches tall) in shape. The article included several abrasive tactics implemented by Weiss, excerpted below via Jezebel:

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. 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.

I cringe when I recall the many times I had it out with Bea over a snack given to her by a friend’s parent or caregiver … rather than direct my irritation at the grown-up, I often derided Bea for not refusing the inappropriate snack. And there have been many awkward moments at parties, when Bea has wanted to eat, say, both cookies and cake, and I’ve engaged in a heated public discussion about why she can’t.

What’s even more disturbing is Weiss’ revealing tidbit that she has struggled with insecurities about her body in the past, even taking laxatives as a teen:

Who was I to teach a little girl how to maintain a healthy weight and body image?” she asks, given that she’s spent the past three decades “[hating] how my body looked and [devoting] an inordinate amount of time trying to change it.” Among other destructive habits, Weiss took laxatives as a teen and “begged” a doctor friend to score her appetite suppressants that had been proven to cause heart-valve defects. “I have not ingested any food, looked at a restaurant menu, or been sick to the point of vomiting without silently launching a complicated mental algorithm about how it will affect my weight,” she admits.

It’s evident that body issues and bad eating habits can be passed down just as squarely as height or facial features. And Weiss’ daughter is inheriting a poor sense of self at a frighteningly young age.

According to Centers for Disease Control Prevention, approximately 17% of children and adolescents in America aged 2—19 years are obese. That’s 12.5 million obese kids and teenagers. The statistics are indeed alarming but how can parents safely combat it while keeping their children’s self-esteem and body image intact? Can they manage calorie count and teach healthy eating without projecting insecurities and weight issues onto their children? On one hand, Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign aims to teach the importance of healthy living with fun activities and exercises for children of all ages. The other extreme is Dara-Lyn Weiss’ aggressive and humiliating attempts to control her child’s eating habits.

When it comes to child dieting and exercise, what practices are considered safe and healthy for parents? Should young children ever be put on diets?

-Jessica C. Andrews

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  • sRa

    horrifying!

  • Bronze

    I see nothing wrong with putting a child on a diet. Espcially little black girls who need to stay far far away from hormone filled beef, chicken and pork. Howeverr it is better to nip weight gain in the bud by filling their day with sports and music and homework. Now if your child won’t loose weight after all that then you just have to accept that thy will be chubby. But at least you tried.

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  • Crimson

    Dumb, you shouldn’t encourage dieting, she should be giving her child healthy food like what good parents do, the child has no money and therefore they control her intake. She needs healthy food and a active lifestyle, like playing or a class. Dieting is dumb, the child is growing up to fast. I find women like her so unattractive the way they pass on their insecurities and low self-esteem onto their children and over fuss. Children who watch their mothers obsess over diets, grow up to be on diets all their life, fluctuating weight often like my work colleagues.

  • JULI

    I BELIEVE THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH PUTTING YOUR DAUGHTER ON A STRICT DIET. YOU ARE SAVING THEM FROM A LIFETIME OF ISSUES THAT COME ALONG WITH BEING OVERWEIGHT. WHAT SHE DID WAS THE RIGHT THING FOR HER DAUGHTER.