The Influence of Parental Pressure in Developing Eating Disorders

Confronting personal sin head-on is messy. Especially in the case of life-dominating sins, such as eating disorders and other addictive behaviors. We sin; we're sinned against...the two ways we are each, personally, affected by evil.

Biblical counselors (and indeed all Christians in the pursuit of holiness) know that to blame another person for one's own sin is a cop-out. And yet....if we are honest, and if we are to be compassionate counselors, we cannot dismiss the role of poor parental modeling (or outright abuse) in catalyzing unbiblical thinking....and setting a child up for an eating disorder. To refuse to acknowledge the damage done by parents (mothers, in particular, in the case of anorexia and bulimia) is unhelpful to counselees. A better approach is to pin-point what exactly was said, and counter it with Scripture. (For example, my mother's chronic threat, "You're never going to have a boyfriend if you don't slim down, because boys don't date fat girls" might have been challenged by the description of true beauty given in 1 Peter, or the description of an ideal woman given - by a queen to her son - in Proverbs 31).

The following article deals with just such a scenario. The mother in this story clearly has disordered eating habits and needs to renew her own mind; she is unwittingly setting her own daughter up for an eating disorder and, potentially, years of misery. Counselors, read it and take heed: it is very, VERY difficult to undo years of this kind of childhood conditioning...even with the Bible and the Holy Spirit on our side.

Vogue article by mom about 7-year-old daughter’s weight sparks heavy backlash

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."

Weiss continued:

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."

1 comment:

  1. That is a really sad story. It certainly is an excellent example of the damage that can be done by parents like this. But my question becomes, who taught this to the mom?


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