An article by a woman who is "fighting" her 7-year-old daughter's "childhood obesity" at home--published in the April issue of Vogue--is causing a big backlash online among readers critical of the magazine and its author.
Dara-Lynn Weiss, the author, wrote about her response to a pediatrician who suggested that her daughter, Bea, should be put on a diet because--at 4'4" and 93 pounds--she was clinically obese and could be at risk for high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes.
It wasn't the diagnosis that readers railed against, but Weiss' management of Bea's subsequent year-long diet.
"Sometimes Bea's after-school snack was a slice of pizza or a gyro from the snack vendor," Weiss wrote. "Other days I forced her to choose a low fat vegetable soup or a single hard-boiled egg. Occasionally I'd give in to her pleas for a square of coffee cake, mainly because I wanted to eat half of it. When she was given access to cupcakes at a party, I alternated between saying, 'Let's not eat that, it's not good for you'; 'Okay, fine, go ahead, but just one'; and 'Bea, you have to stop eating crap like that, you're getting too heavy,' depending on my mood. Then I'd secretly eat two when she wasn't looking."
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.
After Bea lost 16 pounds--meeting her mom's weight-loss goal for her before a Vogue photoshoot--Weiss wrote about her daughter's reaction:
"That's still me," she says of her former self. "I'm not a different person just because I lost sixteen pounds." I protest that indeed she is different. At this moment, that fat girl is a thing of the past. A tear rolls down her beautiful cheek, past the glued-in feather. "Just because it's in the past," she says, "doesn't mean it didn't happen."
"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 admitted. "Who was I to teach a little girl how to maintain a healthy weight and body image?"
"The socialites who write personal essays for Vogue aren't known for their kindness and humility," Katie Baker wrote on Jezebel.com. But Weiss "has to go down in history as the one of the most f---ed up, selfish women to ever grace the magazine's pages."
Weiss "comes across as obsessive and the fact that she made such an issue of her daughter's weight, both in public and in Vogue—seems wrong," Dhani Mau wrote on Fashionista.com.
An anonymous blogger for New York magazine added: "I'm pretty sure Weiss just handed her daughter the road map to all her future eating disorders."