In a time when nearly 17 percent of America’s children are considered obese, there are several fingers being pointed and many debates taking place. Sometimes restaurants are under fire for advertising and serving unhealthy food to kids. Our schools catch flak for the menus and junk food they provide. More recently ad campaigns have insulted children for being fat in an effort to reverse the issue. But what happens on the small scale, when your own child is overweight? One mother documented her attempts to help her child lose weight. Vogue magazine just published this controversial essay. And because of the attention, Random House has inked a book deal for a book to be called “The Heavy.”
Dara-Lynn Weiss is the mother of 7-year-old Bea. At age 6, Bea was 4’4” and weighed 93 pounds. The child’s pediatrician declared her clinically obese and informed her that she was now at a higher risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other weight-related problems. While these issues were serious, Weiss admits that it was a hurtful school moment that prompted Bea’s year-long Weight Watcher’s type diet.
“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.”
The program Bea began is called “Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right.” However, it appears from the essay that Weiss made variations to the program. Weiss was very forthright about how she managed her daughter’s diet.
“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.”
These type of actions have gotten many talking and realizing that there has to be a better way to deal with the obesity epidemic, especially with children. While Bea did lose weight, many professionals are concerned what mental harm was done in the process.
Brooke Randolph, DietsInReview.com’s licensed mental health counselor, shared her reaction to this story. “I am sad for Bea and the embarrassment, frustration, and self hatred she has likely experienced over the last year or so. I hope that she and her mother each take advantage of counseling individually and then work on their relationship with the help of a professional therapist.”
As Weiss continued to be very candid in the essay, at one point she called out her own body image issues.
“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.” Weiss noted that she’s tried Atkins, juice fasts, laxatives, Weight Watchers and more to stay thin.
“Who was I to teach a little girl how to maintain a healthy weight and body image?”
Randolph was concerned about this pattern that is effecting most children, not just Bea.
“This may be a real life illustration from which other moms can learn how our own issues and attitudes about food and body image can greatly impact our children. For most parents, the impact may not be as obvious, but in the long run all of our children are watching and learning from us.”
There has to be a better way than making our kids feel bad about their bodies. The cycle has to end. Healthy habits include mental health as well and it’s fearful that little Bea’s mother neglected her daughter’s total health in this process.