When I first read about 42-year-old Donna Simpson it was clear that she was getting some positive reinforcement in the form of attention from her goal of weighing 1000 pounds. In 2007, she earned the Guinness Book of World Records title for being the world’s biggest mother when she gave birth to her daughter; a birth that required the assistance of 30 medics. Ms. Simpson has stated that her 49-year-old boyfriend supports her in this endeavor and would like her to be bigger. Although, she is seriously endangering her health with the risk of obesity-related diseases, it is likely that the publicity from this goal is increasing the traffic to and income she earns from a website where men pay to watch her eat and wash herself.
The New Jersey woman learned to connect food with positive attention and love as a young child. She reports that her mother would prepare large meals and provided treats on a regular basis. Although many mothers and grandmothers nurture with food to some degree, not many will argue with doctors who express concern about the safety of their children and loved ones. Donna reports that she weighed 182 pounds by the age of nine.
Ms. Simpson needs to ingest 12,000 calories a day to reach her goal weight, and she is already spending up to $815 each week on groceries. She has even said that she tries to move as little as possible to avoid burning calories and chasing after her daughter has made reaching her goal more difficult.
Donna may be getting attention for her weight, but how much attention are her preschool daughter and teenage son really getting? Attention is the highest motivator for children and those that do not get positive attention will seek out other means for obtaining the attention that they need. If they are not getting the attention they need from their mother and she is not able to keep up with them, they could get themselves in to some very dangerous situations.
I have not been able to find any information on how Ms. Simpson feeds her children; however, I did find a picture of her with her daughter who appears to be an average weight for her age. Regardless, she is modeling using food and her body for attention and income, and children are most likely to behave in ways that are modeled for them. ‘Do what I say not what I do’ just never works with kids. In addition, the health consequences of her weight put her children at an increased risk for losing their mother and needing to process grief at a much earlier age than may be necessary.
I am concerned about the society that is giving Ms. Simpson this kind of attention for dangerous behavior, but I am very concerned about her children who are directly impacted by the choices she makes.