Tracey Jackson

Apr 3 2012 | Comments



Granted the story does not have the sociological underpinnings of Trayvon Martin, but there is a thunderstorm brewing in the media and mommy blogger set at the moment about Dara-Lynn Weiss, who  put her kid on a diet and then had the audacity to let Vogue write about it.

Ms Weiss has set off the malicious mommies, a group I  have also been cyberly bitched slapped by.

The crib notes – Ms. Weiss has a seven- year old daughter Bea, whose doctor told her she was obese.  Ms. Weiss then took it upon herself to put her daughter on a diet. She actually followed a book and was under a doctor’s care for much of the time. Granted some of her tactics might have been a bit harsh, but we weren’t there.  She then sold her story to Vogue and proceeded to get burnt at the stake and get a book deal at the same time.  Which means once the haters move on Ms. Weiss will be laughing her way to Amazon Prime, or perhaps share some prime rib with Bea. But the story is also the story of her own issues and how perhaps she could have been less strict with the same results. She is very honest.

I don’t know all the details. I do know several things. Americans are nuts about food, mainly they eat too much of it. And usually they are eating the wrong things.  Then God forbid someone uses the word diet they get all bent out of shape. You’re hurting their feelings. What about their self-esteem?  Don’t use the D- word. I think diet is better than the other  D- word  – Diabetes.

Everyone is yelling how humiliating to put the kid on a diet. They are saying it will ruin her for life. Hello, it’s more humiliating to be laughed at for being fat and being ostracized. Ask anyone who has been fat. It is not fun.  Forget humiliation for a second, it’s deadly to be fat.

Childhood obesity and Diabetes are at an all time high. Plaque starts building in arteries at the age of eighteen.

I see plenty of parents with a tubby kid waddling next to them and I want to stop them and say, “What is wrong with you?  Put that kid on a diet.”

But everyone thinks if you say the word diet the next thing you have on your hands is an eating disorder. Eating disorders are hideous things, but they don’t tend to come because someone told you to go on a diet.

People in this country are obsessed with a certain thinness and body type that is unhealthy and unattainable for many unless they starve.  But there is a middle distance between looking like you just got out of a concentration camp or are up for a starring role in The World’s Biggest Loser.

The word diet is not a death sentence if you’re seven or seventy.  In fact a diet if you need it will often save your life. There are far more obese people in this country than there are people with eating disorders. Go spend the day in Disneyland and tell me if I’m wrong.

When I was eight, I write about this in my book Between a Rock and a Hot Place, haven’t done that in sometime; anyway, I spent seven weeks with my grandparents, both wonderful, yet fat people. My grandmother never met a carb she wouldn’t eat. And when I was with her we ate enough for six.

By the time my mother returned I had gained twenty pounds and was on blood pressure medication. I kid you not.  My mother took one look at blimpy me and said “You’re going on a diet” and she kept me on one  until I lost the weight. I promise you this did nothing in any way to undermine my self-esteem.

The other big issue seems to be should she have let the article run in Vogue, shining light on the fact her daughter was fat and she helped her loose weight.  I personally think she did a good thing. Too much is hidden and shoved under the carpet.   Why is it humiliating to be told  “No you cannot eat two cupcakes.”  Or “No you have had enough sugar and carbs for one day.” Or “No we don’t drink soda here”  I wouldn’t let Lucy eat at McDonalds the other day. Does that make me a monster? Did I destroy her self- image or protect her arteries?

If anyone watched Sixty Minutes on Sunday, Sanjay Gupta did a piece on the fact that there is most likely a link between sugar consumption and some forms of cancer. That being the case, every kid in the country should have their sugar intake curtailed .

I would much rather have my kid get used to the word diet and the concept of moderation than get used to a prosthesis in later life because they lost a limb to Diabetes.

I hope Ms. Weiss kicks butt with her book and mothers and others stop being so damned judgmental.

Dara-Lynne Weiss and Bea















  • I’m not a fan of the “D” word (and as a retired professional ballet dancer I know plenty about being on an diet) but namely because the concepts that are so crucial to healthy eating (an understanding of portions, stopping when you’re full, recognizing when you’re hungry and recognizing when you’re full and recognizing when you’re eating out of boredom, etc) aren’t inherent in the definition of “diet.” 

    Of course, that’s part of the fervor, isn’t it? Using an inflammatory word that can also mean “dangerous eating habits” to describe behavior that could otherwise be described as “enforcing healthy eating habits.” But no one would be up in arms about “enforcing healthy eating habits.” 

    It’s like the Amy Chua book. There were places where she was harsh, but she also taught boundaries.

    We do not come out of the box knowing boundaries, we must be taught them. 

  • I think you are right, it does get down to semantics at a certain point. Diet seems to carry with it a punitive connotation.   But “healthy eating” doesn’t seem to work either. It could, but now we have the word diet etched into our vocabulary, they don’t say a new healthy eating book just came out, it’s  new diet book. Your diet is what you eat. You can have a crappy diet which many do. 
    I think like many things, say smoking, medical advancements have taught us how dangerous being overweight is and along with has waddled the heaviest American population in history. Who is going to fight the corn lobbyists, one of the biggest groups out there. Corn syrup is a ginormous business. Sugar, soda, fast food, much like cigarettes are big industries.
    It’s up to parents to teach boundaries to their kids. But how many parents have boundaries themselves? 
    If mom plunks a giant size bottle of soda on the table with dinner every night, she is saying soda is fine Soda is addictive, and pure sugar, one of the biggest selling items at the market. One has to retrain an entire population of people. 
    Ain’t going to be easy. Especially if people think of it as punishment.
    A new word perhaps needs to be found. But it goes deeper than that, a new way of eating must be put into effect, less preservatives and hormones in the food, less junk food everywhere you turn, portion size reevaluated.  Big job. Thank you for your comment. 

  • Linda Sheridan

    OMG, I SO agree. I was a chubby child in the 60’s when everyone was skinny. I have been up & down the scale. By today’s “standards” I would be considered normal!!! Anyone who allows their child to get and stay obese is doing them a huge disservice, both physically & socially. My niece has been stuffed like a goose since she was born(rest of family is heavy) – now 8 and probably over 140 lbs. Good God! I could scream. They encourage her to eat & completely ignore the whole weight issue. On the other hand, I am shocked at the number of adult
    women 20’s and up who are BULIMIC.  We need a happy medium!

  • Jane moffat

    AGREE!!!! and said as much on FB y’day, sorry i missed your post, will share it now!