Have you heard about Dara-Lynn Weiss, the woman who recently told her tale in Vogue of getting her seven year old to lose weight? In short, her 4 foot 4 inch daughter was weighing in at 93 pounds and declared by her doctor clinically obese. Weiss goes on to describe her erratic approach toward her daughter’s weight loss. Sometimes she would let her eat pizza or hard-boiled eggs, other times, denying her dinner when she had overindulged at school. My favorite decision (note my sarcasm here) is when she describes ripping a cup of hot chocolate out of her little girl’s hands in Starbucks, dramatically upset because the barista doesn’t know precisely how many calories are in the cup. For more excerpts you can read the Yahoo News story.
Now, this may be the first time I’ve ever publicly criticized a mother. It’s my contention that too many women are constantly critiquing each other’s parenting skills when what they should be doing is providing support. However, I’m very passionate about health issues, particularly when it comes to children. Besides, this is not just a health issue; it’s intertwined, as food often is, with self-esteem.
I have grown up with eating issues. From stuffing myself, to starving myself and attempting to make myself throw up, it has taken me a long time to have a comfortable relationship with food. Much of this has stemmed from my history of depression, anxiety, and being made fun of in school for being an overweight nerd. It can’t be denied, though, that my family, the case with many American families, seeks comfort in food.
So, I wonder, what would have happened to me had my parents talked to me the way Dara-Lynn Weiss did? Certainly I didn’t need them telling me that I was heavy, everyone at school was already letting me know that on a daily basis. I can only imagine that my disordered approach to food would have worsened dramatically. Or worse, that my depression and anxiety would have increased to dangerous levels. I was never told by my parents that I was “heavy,” and when I did manage to lose weight I wasn’t told “that fat girl thing is part of your past.” What a painful thing to say to a little girl.
We face in our society criticism every day over body image. No one would profess more how important it is to teach healthy eating to children than me. I don’t let my toddler have breading on her chicken chunks or juice in her sippy cup. I hope that teaching and modeling healthy habits
now will give her a solid basis for her future eating behavior. But if it blows up in my face, I would be more likely to share my own struggles than to make her feel fatter and less of a person that she already feels. Certainly if she gets to that point, no one will be making her feel lower than she is already making herself feel. The one person that could make her feel lower would be me, and I refuse to ever cause her that kind of pain.
We need to start being a culture that values happy curves instead of miserable skin and bones. Keeping our kids at a healthy weight may do wonders for their blood pressure and risk of diabetes, but done the wrong way, it will do little for their hearts, minds and souls.
Curvy Girl Guide Contributor, Amanda is a licensed mental health counselor and school counselor, work at home mom, wife, dog walker, cook, runner, knitter, and lover of wine, chocolate, and anything with cream cheese in it. She writes Tales of an Amateur Mommy where she describes her daily survival of being a new mother. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter!