Savannah and I went to the grocery store today to get a few things for this week. Savannah is my oldest daughter–16. As you can imagine, she picked up the latest cover of Vogue.
I’ll admit I don’t normally read this magazine as my fashion sense consists generally of jeans and a t-shirt but a blurb on the cover stood out
I sat down to read this article with great interest. It was an article called “Weight Watcher” written by Dara-Lynn Weiss, a mother whose 7 year old daughter, Bea, was clinically diagnosed as “obese”. What followed was her story of trying to attack the problem.
I found this compelling not because any of my children are overweight or appear to struggle with overeating.
But rather because I (obviously) have food issues of my own and it’s something that is always on my mind.
Making sure that I become the example my children need.
That if they ever do have weight issues, that I handle them in a healthy way.
Initially, I could relate to this mother. She confessed that she had “suffered through my own issues with food” adding that “Over the last 30 years, I’ve been on and off Weight Watchers, Atkins, Slim Fast, LA Weight Loss, Jenny Craig, juice diets and raw-food diets”
Wow. If she had just thrown in Nutrisystem and the cabbage soup diet then we would have been twins. I can totally relate to this woman already!!!
She went on to say “I was constantly battling my weight gain….I hated how my body looked and devoted an inordinate amount of time to trying to change it.” In additon to this, she said that she “dabbled in the occasional laxative or emetic, and once fainted at a summer program in Vermont after three days of near fasting.”
I have been on laxatives and I fainted once in college after a long bout of fasting . Man…this woman and I are totally seperated at birth. I can completely relate to her struggles with food and her desperate attempts to lose weight.
I was totally sucked into this article. I totally get this woman!!!
She went on to add that she “begged a doctor friend to score me the prescription appetite suppressant fen-phen EVEN AFTER it was found to cause heart-valve defects and pulmonary hypertension”
CHECK! Yep that’s me. I actually remember having my husband drive me to this little tiny house somewhere on the other side of town where a doctor in a white coat was writing prescriptions to dozens of people crowded in the living room….I mean “waiting room”.
I know what it means to be so desperate to lose weight that you would risk anything to make it happen.
The writer then adds that “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”
Ok this woman and I are on the same page. I could have written that myself!!
I have literally been sick with the flu…diarrhea and vomiting….and thought HAPPILY…
But then things seemed to take a drastic turn. Suddenly me and my seperated-at-birth writer of the article were suddenly nothing alike.
First she called her daughter “fat” which for me is something I personally wouldn’t do.
I mean I’ll call MYSELF fat.
I’m fat—there I said it.
In fact I’m not even fat. I’d have to lose another 100 pounds to be considered just “fat”.
But to me…fat is one of those terms that probably carries a hurtful connotation. So I would never call my child “fat”. Even if they were. I’m not saying I would deny the issue existed. I’m just saying that I would not call them “fat”
Because while I know that I am fat and I’m not in denial….I’m also a grown 39 year old woman. And I can handle being called fat.
And I also know that being called “fat” at 7 years old publicly in writing by your mother…probably stings.
She also called her son “Skinny”….I wonder if that has the same sting… not sure….
It’s interesting because this woman seems to recognize that she has her own food issues and that she probably is not the best person to be dealing with this issue.
In fact she admits “Who was I to teach a little girl how to maintain a healthy weight and body image?”
I would be thinking the same thing. With my background and food issues, who am I to handle this??
But you know what? Life doesn’t always give us problems that we are expertly designed to handle. Sometimes we are given problems that are completely out of our comfort zone.
But because our name is “Mom” or “Dad” it becomes our job anyway. Our duty. Because it is our child. And our responsbility to be there for them.
No matter what.
You know, I’ll admit that as a mom I am very protective of my children.
Not in an over the top way (to my knowledge) but still I’m protective.
And as someone who has had food issues my whole life, I think I’m uniquely sensitive to the emotional aspect involved in being overweight and having your private problem become clearly public.
Because being overweight is PUBLIC. I mean people see you. They KNOW.
You can’t hide that you’re overweight.
So I would assume that this mother being personally aware of this would be sensitive to that fact.
But instead, I found myself reading about a woman who publicly shamed her daughter in every possible way so that she could lose 16 pounds.
In case you couldn’t read that…here is the text below….
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 wonder what her daughter, Bea, was feeling when her mother “dramatically” grabbed the drink out of her hands and poured it into the garbage storming out?
How would I feel if I was an overweight…oh excuse me…FAT….7 year old standing in a Starbucks holding a cup of hot chocolate when my mother dramatically ripped it from my hands and poured it into the trash in front of everyone.
I imagine the packed Starbucks with everyone on their laptops furiously typing away and engaged in converstions until suddenly they stopped to see this woman “dressing down” the Starbucks barista for not knowing if the hot chocolate was 120 or 210 calories.
The trauma that those 90 calories brought to little 7 year old Bea’s day.
And I’m thinking adding whipped cream or not might have been the 90 calories differential.
Just a thought.
And she deprived her child of dinner because she had participated at French Heritage day at school involving a baguette and brie?
So she deprived her of dinner? The same exact woman who a few paragraphs earlier discussed fainting due to fasting too long? And how she had her own disordered view of dieting?
Since when is skipping meals and depriving a good way to handle your food issues?
She went on to add
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.
So she “derided” her child….