Dara-Lynn Weiss, the woman who became infamous for writing in Vogue about putting her daughter on a diet, wants it both ways: she repeats over and over in her new memoir The Heavy: A Mother, A Daughter, A Diet, how much she loves every inch of her daughter, including her pesky belly, but then painstakingly details the lengths she went to in order to shrink it. That dichotomy surely wasn’t lost on her daughter, and there’s no telling how that will affect her in later years. Weiss’s attitude is that she had to take extreme measures to combat the extreme problem of childhood obesity, but it’s the very extremity that concerned me. I felt anxious reading it as Weiss panicked and seemed completely consumed by this project when her four foot four, 93-pound daughter was pronounced obese by her pediatrician. Keep reading »
“I understand the desire to make a child feel beautiful at any weight. I truly advocate for size acceptance. The culture of body image upsets me and has tortured me personally. I do think we should be able to be different sizes but I draw the line at when it starts affecting her health.”
– Dara-Lynn Weiss, who was ostracized after she published an article in Vogue all about putting her seven-year-old daughter Bea on a diet. Weiss has a new book out, titled The Heavy, which expands upon that article. Here, she attempts to explain why she put her child on a diet. Elsewhere in the NYMag.com interview, Weiss notes that she was afraid of giving her daughter a complex because of her own discomfort with food. But she also painstakingly explains that the Vogue photos were misleading, because they don’t show Bea’s midsection, and how fat she really is. UGH.
If nothing else, this interview — which focuses heavily on Weiss’s own body issues — sheds light on the vicious cycle of body image problems that mothers pass down to children. Will you give The Heavy a read? [NYMag.com]
By now, many of you may have read Vogue’s annual “Shape” issue and had some reaction to the story of Bea, a seven-year-old girl whose mother was intent on curing her “obesity,” which was, in reality, 16 extra pounds of baby fat.
“One day Bea came home from school in tears, confessing that a boy at school had called her fat. The incident crushed me, but it was a wake-up call. Being overweight is not a private struggle. Everyone can see it,” said Bea’s mother, Dara-Lynn Weiss.
Weiss immediately put Bea on a Weight Watchers-type diet designed for children. Reading this, I felt a familiar pang in my gut. I was also an overweight child who came home from school and complaining about being teased. It was fifth grade, and I was the new kid in school. I didn’t know I was overweight until one of the popular boys spit on my new pair of Vans and called me “fat ass.” The girls were even worse. They attacked me in the bathroom with a barrage of spitballs. I spent most of the school year alone, writing in my journal. There’s one heartbreaking entry I’ll never forget: Dear Diary, Please let me be popular. Please let me not be fat anymore.
Although I’ve moved on and healed from these experiences, which happened more than 20 years ago, it still hurts to write about them. They’re a reminder of how cruel people can be, perhaps without even meaning to. What’s more painful for me, though, is remembering how my mother reacted to these incidents. Keep reading »