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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

154

Vigilance vs. Obsession

"I’ve never walked in Weiss’s shoes. I am not the parent of a child with weight issues at this stage of the game, and weight isn’t my particular obsession. ... Instead of making a judgment call that I’m not at all qualified to make about Weiss’s tactics, I decided to talk to her."



154 Comments / Post A Comment

area@twitter

This whole approach still feels off to me somehow, and I can't quite say why. I think it has to do with the fact that her daughter's weight loss was celebrated through a photoshoot and buying clothes? So what could be a purely health goal is directly conflated with appearance (and the inverse: if you're fat, you don't deserve to have pretty things). Just my bent, though.

Also: "we made it very unemotional" Except for the part where you flipped out over your daughter eating unsanctioned Brie at French club, amirite?

queenofbithynia

@area@twitter And except for the part where she declares that her child should be "proud" of getting smaller and insists upon a whole sequence of emotions that her daughter will be required to feel both now and in later life.

fondue with cheddar

@queenofbithynia She did say that, but she also said that she instilled in her daughter that she should gain weight at a healthy rate as she grows up.

adorable-eggplant

@fondue with cheddar But what is a healthy rate? We really don't know. Reasonable doctors will disagree. Different people rest comfortably at different ends of the weight spectrum and are healthy there.

Unsanctioned Brie? That kills me.

fondue with cheddar

@adorable-eggplant Everybody has their own healthy rate, just like everyone has their own healthy weight once they're done growing. It's all so subjective.

WaityKatie

@queenofbithynia Yep. It's the fact that her whole approach was focused on "losing weight" and "not being fat," and not on eating healthy and exercising. As the survivor of a similar parental onslaught (although mine occurred at age 11 rather than 7), I can nearly guarantee that this kid is going to hate and resent her mom for doing this to her. I know that my mother wanted to help me by putting me on a diet and shaming me for my weight, but she didn't help me. She made being a fat kid (already bad) so much worse, and created a lot of resentment and personal shame about my body that I'm still working through. Bad idea jeans, all around.

area@twitter

@adorable-eggplant Illicit cheese = best cheese

fondue with cheddar

@area@twitter Wait...I thought all cheese was the best cheese?

adorable-eggplant

@fondue with cheddar

Defiant cheese > illicit cheese > no cheese.

Limburger is the best cheese (right now, because picking favorites is sooooo hard).

fondue with cheddar

@adorable-eggplant Ooh, defiant cheese.

I've never had Limburger! I'm sort of afraid of it because I've got a keen sense of smell.

fondue with cheddar

@adorable-eggplant Alright, I'm obviously kind of cheese-obsessed, but "defiant cheese" or "illicit cheese" would make great usernames.

adorable-eggplant

@fondue with cheddar If you are scent sensitive then I can see why you'd stay away (some scientists got an ig nobel prize for an article "On human odour, malaria mosquitoes, and Limburger cheese" that demonstrates that mosquitoes are equally attracted to to stinky feet and limburger) but it's like camembert and not nearly as pungent as it smells! Or maybe I'm just partial. :)

Plus, I have mine on rye with so much onion and mustard--I've a friend who just got back from Ghent and brought the most kicking mustard I've ever had--that I can barely taste the feet-iness of the cheese.

That's one of the things that makes me so sad about this article: eating can be such an awesome adventure and reducing it to calories-in or something that should be humiliating if done wrong strikes me as just really, really joyless.

adorable-eggplant

@WaityKatie I am so sorry to hear about your experience, btw. I can imagine what it's like to be a mom and sort of frantic about figuring out how to feed a kid in a healthy way (my mom used to mash carrots into spaghetti sauce because I went through a picky phase and she was worried I would never knowingly eat a vegetable, which is hilarious because I ended up asking for a salad shooter for christmas in 3rd grade because I saw an infomercial and was obsessed) but parents have a responsibility--im(non-parent)ho--to try and shield their children from that worry. There's enough pressure from society to eat/look a certain way without having it at home too.

So freak out all you want, replace regular pasta with wheat pasta (no, don't do that; it sounds horrible), do fruit leather snacks instead of gummies, but don't tell the kid they're wrong/broken/unacceptable. And for the love of god, don't subject them to a vogue magazine photoshoot.

fondue with cheddar

@adorable-eggplant Yeah, I can definitely see how eating it with onions and mustard on rye (all very flavorful!) would make it more palatable. There are a lot of things that I can't stand on their own but they're fantastic when combined with other foods. Like Swiss cheese...I've never liked it on its own, but it's great on a ham sandwich, in mac and cheese, or melted over steak.

Yeah, I'm constantly toeing the line between joyful and joyless eating, because I've got so many issues (sensory and allergies) that my palate is kind of limited. Often I end up eating just for sustenance with little enjoyment, which sucks. But when I do eat something that I love, I really appreciate it and most likely won't be able to stop talking about it.

adorable-eggplant

@fondue with cheddar Melted swiss over steak! I will so totally steal that idea. My friend taught me about this crazy dish/cheese called raclette that's basically warm cheese on veggies or gherkins or deli meat. I haven't done it in years (mostly cause I'm hella lazy) but it used to make for really fun snack parties.

I can see where allergies/sensitivity would make eating a slog: I'm still on the picky eater end of the spectrum, and that can be a pain in the butt to a lesser extent, especially when going out to eat because I have less control over ingredients that might sneak in to things (I'm looking at you, peas). But stumbling on a new favorite combo can be a life saver. Some of my favorite tastes are pretty mild (bland, some might say), but there's something really nice about savoring a bowl of buttered noodles or munching on wensleydale and saltine crackers because I know I'll be satisfied every single time.

fondue with cheddar

@adorable-eggplant Oh, I'm picky, too. Going out to eat makes me anxious when the menu items don't detail exactly what is in the dishes.

A bowl of buttered noodles is a little too bland for me, but buttered noodles with Parmesan/Romano cheese and a dash of black pepper is to die for. Or even better, extra virgin olive oil instead of butter! I also like pasta with brown gravy.

Variety is nice, but it's so hard, isn't it? Speaking of being satisfied every time, I eat the exact same thing for lunch at work every day (Lean Cuisine pepperoni pizza) because I like it and I never get tired of it (bonus: it cooks quickly). I felt weird about this until I heard that Oliver Sacks has been eating the same exact food every day for decades. And he's brilliant, so I figure that means I'm okay. ;)

Jill_Tata

agreed! 110%!!!@k

Valley Girl

Hoo boy, I think I already used up my angry fat girl ranting points for the day in the Coke commercial thread. But I will say that at least the interview makes this lady sound like she's more concerned about her daughter's health than her appearance, which is always nice.

kinbarichan

@Valley Girl: I have a sneaking suspicion that if you asked the mother whether she's rather have a thin daughter with health problems or a fat daughter who's perfectly healthy, she'd go for the thin daughter, because then at least she'd look good.

queenofbithynia

I think a lot of my readers will want me to ask you why you would write an entire book about a subject that’s so personal to your daughter.

A.I felt like this was something she should be proud of. This was an enormous accomplishment for her.

this is when all possibility of understanding and measured respect for this terrible woman died in my soul.

Probs

I read this with interest, from a slightly different perspective- my sister, who will turn 26 this month, is obese, and has Down's Syndrome- it's a very complex thing for my parents to negotiate, especially since she's been away at college the past year and a half. There's no easy answers. I think this mom is more or less doing the right thing, even if there's something unplaceably icky about it all, to me.

MmeLibrarian

I think it's great that she took such an active approach to helping her daughter and that, most importantly, she involved experts in the process. But I do think she's towing the line by speaking publicly about it. Then again, though, the story/information that she's sharing are probably really helpful for some parents who find themselves in a similar situation.

MmeLibrarian

@MmeLibrarian ugh, toeing, not towing. I know better than that.

iceberg

@MmeLibrarian Yeah I actually think it's good that she wrote about it, because there are NO DOUBT other parents going through it, and now they see they're not alone, and they can look at what she did and see if someof that would work for them, or how they can adapt her strategies to their situation.

ghechr

@MmeLibrarian Having only just had a baby, I don't have experience with the nuances of weight loss for older children, but I do sympathize with Weiss' conundrum. There's really not a lot of good advice for parents out there. Even in my limited experience, there's a lot of shaming and judgment involved in parenting. For example, I frequently hear blame being placed on parents for the obesity of their children but at the same time, there's no real solution given other than vague advice (i.e. watch less TV, don't eat fast food). So what should Weiss do? She apparently consulted with physicians and tried to do the right thing. Whether it's successful or not I suppose time will tell.

iceberg

God I hope my kids don't have weight issues - what with my usband's vegetarianism, plus my allergies to spices and pickiness, their diet is already pretty narrow.

Sarah Rain

@iceberg You might want to consider feeding them foods you don't eat! I think exposure to lots of different foods helps most people find a broader spectrum of things they'll enjoy in the long run.

iceberg

@Sarah Rain yes, we are trying to do that! I try not to let them see the face I make when I smell the hummus (or the olives, or the pickles...)

Marquise de Morville

@iceberg I worry about introducing a balanced diet, too. I am allergic to so much stuff (raw fruit and vegetables etc.) and my husband cannot eat fish or seafood. I see myself peeling apples or carrots in the future using hazmat equipment, and hoping my future children will still like to and be able to eat fresh fruit.

hands_down

Boy, this gives me a lot of feelings. As an overweight child, I definitely received lots of mixed messages from my parents and not any actual nutritional education. It wasn't until I saw a nutritionist as an adult that I understood how what I ate impacted my body. Perhaps what Bea has learned will prove to feel empowering, not embarrassing?

iceberg

@hands_down Yeah I hope she is like, "this is just the deal living in my body, but I have the tools to manage it".

hands_down

@iceberg Or she has the tools to reject it, too. She might ultimately find herself struggling to fit a standard that her body isn't meant to be, and she can adjust her nutritional intake so that it isn't so restrictive. Of course, I'm describing this as an unemotional decision, which it rarely is.

piekin

@hands_down One of my biggest problems with Weiss' approach is that it wasn't FAMILY-oriented, it was BEA-oriented. Instead of changing the way the whole family ate (more whole foods, less meat and sugar, for example) and encouraging physical activity with family walks/bike rides/ball games, she makes Bea COUNT HER CALORIES while continuing to load her up with highly-processed cupcakes and snack-packs.

Weiss readily admits that she has no idea what her son eats -- apparently his probably-unhealthy diet is "not a problem" simply because he's not fat. (Yet! - Even normal-weight children have a high likelihood of turning into obese adults, of course.) Instead of trying to teach and model lessons about good nutrition and adequate exercise to both of her children, Weiss decided to isolate her daughter as "the fat one," reduce "health" to "thinness" and "nutrition" to "calories," and then publish a book about it. While I hope Bea does feel empowered, her mother hasn't made it easy.

darthvadersmom

@hands_down i hadn't been able to pin down what was bothering me about this approach (other than the complete failure to mention exercise) but this is it. thank you.

fondue with cheddar

I was a really skinny kid, and I could eat ANYTHING and never gain weight, even through adolescence. Now I'm overweight and still have bad eating habits, and I'm having a hard time changing them. I can't help but wonder if children who are taught the right way to watch their weight (whatever that is) will have a leg up when they get older. Similar to how kids who are naturally "smart" can get good grades easily, but when they get older they have a hard time because they never developed good study habits.

Sarah Rain

@fondue with cheddar If we consider watching one's weight to be a good goal for most people.

iceberg

@fondue with cheddar Uh oh I think both of these are me! I was super smart in kindergarten and it was all downhill from there, AND I was a skinny kid who never had to think about what went in my gob, which blew up in my face (and my hips) when I finished college and worked at a desk full time. It's extremely lucky for me that my metabolism hasn't ground to a complete halt, I'd be screwed.

fondue with cheddar

@Sarah Rain The problem is that there's a fine line between the good kind of watching one's weight and the bad kind.

@iceberg Twinsies! I actually managed to remain super smart until about 4th grade when my grades started to slip. That's when we started getting homework assignments and it became apparent that studying was necessary.

leonstj

@fondue with cheddar - Yeah, it's really true. I became overweight in middle school and struggled with it forever - I've developed a lifetime of horrible habits and diet as a result of being left to my own.

I'm not sure the "good" vs "bad" ways to parent - I have not ever been one, I sympathize greatly with what a minefield of challenges this must be.

I wish I weighed a lot less. I know how to do it, but just - that sort of discipline was something I was never subjected to growing up. And it's the kind of thing where, I get it, cognitively - but now at 30 I'm trying to undo all of these bad habits that I was raised with, and it's an absolute fucking nightmare.

Not saying being skinny is the goal for all people, or should even matter - for me, knowing the men in my family (all construction workers - the amount of physical exertion in their lives coupled with basically eating no meals beyond "Dinner" and "Booze" meant they never had to think about weight) and my own habits, I'm not just trying to look better (I mean, I am doing that) but I'm just straight up not as healthy as I should be, and I don't want it to, ya know, kill me eventually. If someone is not the shape of people in movies but still healthy, which many, many people are, that's great. But it's not me.

And it's a fucking bummer. My parents were great about a lot of things, but this is something they didn't ever deal with - not even poorly - and it's probably the shittiest thing about my life right now (I mean, I"m a happy person overall, but still).

I don't know. I can't judge myself either whether or not Weiss is doing it RIGHT, but I'm glad there is a dialogue going on about parents doing something. I'd hate to see more and more kids keep turning out, well, like me.

smack

@fondue with cheddar I know this feeling! I was an athletic kid who never worried about it, never thought about it and started gaining weight pretty steadily after hitting puberty (and the bong) and I'm struggling now at 34 with like, eating smaller food amounts.

That being said, I never felt ugly in school, I never ever even thought about being too fat or engaged in that bullshit oneupsmanship of middle and high school of "no but I'm so ugly, look at these Quasimodo legs" or whatever. If anything, I think I got so fat because I still think a lot of times I look hot as shit even though I'm sure dillweed bros and redditors disagree. I think sure, it's a process as I get older, learning my new diet over again, but I think there are a lot of lifelong benefits to my personality, my ability to have healthy relationships, and all that other shit that goes along with not havin wrecked self-esteem that I don't think I'd trade it.

fondue with cheddar

@leon s Yeah, it's really hard to undo bad habits you developed when you were a child.

That's mostly what it is for me; I want to lose weight so I will be healthier and also so I will feel better in my body. The worst part is the fact that it's just so damn hard to find clothes that fit properly, which makes me feel like something is wrong with me. I usually just consider looking better as a bonus to losing weight, but some days I look in the mirror and obsess a little about it.

ImASadGiraffe

@fondue with cheddar I was a serious athlete when I was a kid (competitive gymnastics), and I ate a lot because I needed it for fuel. It was very hard to dial that back as an adult and I still struggle with the fact that I can't eat everything I want to and still be healthy.

iceberg

@leon s oh leon. I want MORE kids to turn out like you! (I know what you mean but i just think you are cool).

bluebears

That Q & A didn't make me feel any less grossed out by this woman's tactics. Her understanding of nutrition seems tenuous at best. And her admission that she personally "obsessed" about her daughters weight but somehow shielded that from her daughter is laughable.

fabel

@bluebears Yep.

adorable-eggplant

@bluebears Especially because her daughter can read that as soon as she's old enough to google herself.

RNL
RNL

You know, I have lost a lot of weight, and kept it off for years, and am happy about it. I feel conflicted, because I love my (still bigger than average) body, but I can relate to the idea that weight loss can be life-improving, as it was for me.

But holy crap, do I wish that I didn't grow up believing that I was fat, and furthermore, that fat was bad. That belief not only ruined my life for years, but it made me fat. I wasn't fat! I became fat because I ate because I was sad and felt hopeless about my body. The belief that my body was wrong was the single most destructive thing in my life, and only now at 28 am I coming to grips with it at all.

So I'm sorry for this kid. For whatever happens to her, it sounds like she might live in perpetual fear that her body could become wrong.

fondue with cheddar

@RNL I'm sorry you had to go through that.

I was a very skinny kid, so when I hit puberty and started putting on weight I thought I was fat (though in hindsight I was still skinny, just softer and curvier). I didn't obsess about my weight because I didn't change the way that I ate, but I would always compare myself to other girls who were toothpicks and thought there was something wrong with my body. My mom always struggled with her weight but never let me see it (though once I did stumble across her package of Dexatrim).

The bottom line is that we, as a society, need to focus more on being healthy than looking healthy. Because unless they're at the extreme ends of the spectrum, you really can't tell much about a person's health merely by their weight.

fondue with cheddar

@RNL And I lost a great deal of weight (sort of by accident) several years ago, and it was life-improving for me as well. But I gained the weight back and now it feels like a failure that I didn't keep it off. I wasn't healthy when I lost that weight because I wasn't eating enough, but on the other hand I was getting more exercise because it was less stressful on my body, so that was a good thing. But the best part of it, for me, was that I was happy about the way I looked, and it bothers me that that was so important and that I still yearn for that. Ugh, it's all so complicated.

RNL
RNL

@fondue with cheddar I hear you sister! I am a bit less than halfway between my heaviest weight ever and lightest weight ever, which I got to by basically not eating anything but vodka for a few months. Healthy no, skinny yes.

I got so much attention like that. People told me I looked great and men were sniffing around like crazy. It was hard to gain the weight back and return to my normal self. Dating dudes who are actively into my body has been really helpful. And making a deliberate effort to NEVER say anything negative about my body out loud has also helped.

I'm sad I lived so long with a negative belief about myself, and I'm grateful for your kind words. But I'm here today, with a pretty complete and ever-solidifying degree of self-knowledge about my worth and how it relates (and doesn't relate) to my weight. It's hard-won, and I wouldn't give it up for the world.

fondue with cheddar

@RNL Ugh, that's such a damaging scenario, isn't it?

Dating dudes who are actively into your body does help. I've had enough experience to realize that there are a lot of men who prefer ladies with more fat on their bodies, and there are also a lot of men who don't have a preference.

I do have a tendency to complain out loud about my body, but that's less about how I look and more about (a) wanting to be healthy, and (b) being frustrated about buying clothes.

But I'm here today, with a pretty complete and ever-solidifying degree of self-knowledge about my worth and how it relates (and doesn't relate) to my weight. It's hard-won, and I wouldn't give it up for the world.

Go, you! That is an extremely important revelation. Don't ever give it up. :)

packedsuitcase

@RNL "And making a deliberate effort to NEVER say anything negative about my body out loud has also helped." I need to be better at this.

I am way too hung up on my weight/size. It's not cool, it's not healthy, it's horrible. And I get all anxious over dumb things like "Dudefriend shows his friends a picture of me when I was post-breakup skinny, and now his friends will think I'm fat when they meet me." And I know how problematic this is, and I'm disgusted with myself for it. But it's still there. Does anybody know how to shut that voice up? (I think it's flaring up because I've spent the last 10 months unable to do the healthy, fun things I normally do and I miss them and the way they made me feel. But that doesn't mean the things that I say to myself in my head aren't completely problematic on their own.)

fondue with cheddar

@packedsuitcase OMG THIS. I really would like to know how to shut that voice up. I dread running into people I haven't seen in a long time because I don't want them to see how fat I am compared to when they last saw me. Also, I worry that someone will remember that I had braces in middle/high school and wonder why my teeth are crooked again.

RNL
RNL

@packedsuitcase @fondue with cheddar

You guys! That voice is totally understandable, but it's not a loving one.

Here are some things I try to do:

1) remember that my thoughts aren't real, they are just made up ideas about how the world is. I find it helpful to think about times when I have realized that someone else has a memory of a situation that is completely different than my own. Our thoughts seem real, but THEY AREN'T! Which means you're free to choose other ones.

2) Make a commitment to never vocalize those thoughts, or at least not in a casual way. There's a HUGE difference between saying "ugh I'm so fat" to a co-worker or whatever, and saying "I'm having fear that my boyfriend doesn't like my body" to a close friend.

3) When I have a negative thought about myself think "would I say this (or think this) about somebody else? A friend?"

4) As a first step, when I'm struggling, I try to just name the thoughts, without getting rid of them. "Oh, that's a negative story I'm telling myself about my body. Ok, cool, noted."

5) When I'm feeling stronger, I try to replace the story with another thought, either related (I looked great in that dress last week, or man was that great sex I had) or unrelated (Hm, should I see a movie this week?).

6) Date dudes who like my body, buy sexy underwear, and invest in flattering lighting. But sex is a huge part of my identity, so YMMV.

packedsuitcase

@RNL Oh, I like these. I'm going to print them out. 2 is big for me - it's become a very casual thing, and I hate that! But it's become shorthand for "Please tell me something nice about my body," which is also not good. I don't want to need that from anybody but myself.

And 6 - oh, 6. Luckily Dudefriend is very appreciative of my body (when he sees it - stupid LDR), and I have found the nicest kind of underwear for myself and only buy that. Even though it's expensive, I kind of think it's worth it to know I look bangin' to Dudefriend when the clothes come off.

fondue with cheddar

@RNL Thanks for that! Those are good suggestions and definitely something to think about. I'm terrible about being mindful about my thoughts (that sounds like it shouldn't make sense) but I will try!

I have several physical characteristics (besides being overweight) that make it difficult to find clothes that flatter my body. I know I would feel a lot better about my appearance if I could just find the right clothes for me. Even if I were to find the right clothes, money is tight so that shopping for them is just not an option. So I'm stuck with either looking frumpy and comfortable or dressy and uncomfortable, neither of which make me feel good about my body.

Flattering lighting is HUGE. I have a pretty strict no-overhead-lighting-in-the-bedroom rule.

Fortunately, I've got a boyfriend who loves my body the way it is. He's a photographer, and really wants to take pictures of me to show me how I look through his eyes, and he's confident he can take pictures of me that I will be happy with. It's been a year and a half and I still haven't been able to get comfortable with the idea. But I'm trying!

RNL
RNL

@packedsuitcase I have more! Hahaha I didn't even realize what a huge project this has been for me.

7) Watch alt porn. Your bod is both normal and hot! Looking at those ladies really helped me stop feeling abnormal.

8) Walk away from or challenge negative body-talk, ostentatiously. I turned on my heel at running club when my co-worker said all she wanted to be was "thin like Keira Knightly". I called out my (otherwise very sensitive) roommate when she pointed to Kate Middleton's elbows as evidence of her being "too thin". I treat it like I might treat casual racism. I get flack for it (my roommate was like "you're obviously grouchy I'm going to leave you alone". Not grouchy, just incensed!)

9) Don't compliment other people on their bodies. Find other things to compliment them on.

10) Focus on what my body can do and how it feels rather than how it looks. When I gain weight and don't fit in my clothes, I try to think about how I would like to run more and eat a bit less so I have more energy rather than so I look a different way, or how much bigger my boobs are (ok, the latter is about how I look, but who cares my boobs are GIANT right now and it's awesome).

RNL
RNL

@fondue with cheddar OMG take the pictures!

I'm just jealous, I want pictures of me.

I hear you on dressing. Good luck! Love yourself! Wear big earrings and great scarves.

packedsuitcase

@RNL 10 is what I usually do. Unfortunately I am 3 months out of major knee surgery (that I had to wait 8 months for), and only now being allowed to get back in the gym/yoga studio. But I am allowed back, so hopefully soon I will have some progress that I can point to and say, "See, body? You're doing well. Good body."

@fondue with cheddar - go for it! I did a boudoir shoot a year or two ago and it was AMAZING for my self esteem. Seriously. I felt (and looked, much to my surprise) HOT AS HELL. No joke. And even now I look at the pictures and think "Yes, yes, I *am* sexy." Seriously, grab a glass of wine, let the boyfriend grab his camera, and prepare to be amazed.

iceberg

@fondue with cheddar girl run home and doooo it now. husband still has (crappy, snapshotty) dirty pics of me from pre-pregnancy, and I'm happy about it because I had no idea how sexy I was back then until I looked at them again recently. Have a record of your hotness for the ages, is what I'm saying!

fondue with cheddar

@RNL My ears aren't pierced!

I go through phases where I look at sites like curveappeal.com regularly, and it's good to see lots of pictures of full-figured women. But I also compare myself to them, and whether I compare myself favorably or unfavorably it doesn't make me feel better for very long.

I read a magazine interview many years ago with Christina Ricci. There was this gorgeous shot of her wearing a bra and half slip, and I remember looking at it and thinking, "OMG, that's exactly my body!" Like...if you'd covered up her head I might actually think it was me. That made me feel really great to see a respected actress with a body like mine. But then she lost all that weight, and it was so disappointing to me because she was...not so much a role model but just an uplifting example of how my body was acceptable. I know it shouldn't matter but it really hurt me in a way that is hard to describe.

fondue with cheddar

@iceberg I've sort of got a double hurdle here. My ex husband used to take unwelcome nude pictures of me, and it felt really dirty (and not in a good way). Then, toward the end of our marriage he started posting them online without my knowledge (my face wasn't in them). So it's sort of become a "thing" with me. I trust my boyfriend completely and have gotten over that part of it, but I'm still not comfortable having my picture taken and looking at pictures of myself. I'm really trying to get over it, though! I probably just have to dive in and let him do it and see what happens, and I may be pleasantly surprised. I've actually been thinking lately that I might be ready sometime soon maybe. But I don't know!

packedsuitcase

@fondue with cheddar Ah, gotcha - I'm so sorry your ex was such a juicebox, and I totally understand having trust issues with that. If you ever are in a place where you can have the pictures taken, though, I definitely suggest giving it a shot.

fondue with cheddar

@packedsuitcase It's not really a trust thing anymore because I totally trust him. But I feel uncomfortable being naked in front of a camera. I've taken sexy nude photos of myself with my phone (or rather, parts of myself because my arms are only so long), and that feels more comfortable because I'm in control. But having someone else take pictures of me makes me feel like an object, because my ex saw me as a sexual plaything more than a whole person. Being on the other side of the lens still feels like I'm being violated. I know my boyfriend doesn't see me that way, and I think that this point my comfort level with seeing pictures of myself is a bigger problem.

I'm sorry for going on and on about myself today. Anyway, thanks again for all your advice. It is good, and it means a lot more coming from someone who has directly experienced it and overcome it. I printed out your list of things to think about and I will keep it handy. :)

packedsuitcase

@fondue with cheddar Big hugs! I could definitely see that being a struggle. Anyways, I vote we go buy ourselves some sexy underwear (or go without, winkwinknudgenudge) and test out this awesome advice.

gidgetjones

@RNL @fondue with cheddar I want pictures of me, too! My fellow takes pictures constantly, mostly on the sly ("sly") just for himself, but will ask me to pose and/or show me occasionally. Bless his heart, either he is not a photographer or I am the Keeper of Lindsay Lohan's Chins. I know, the latter sentiment is terrible (and add me to the list of ladies who need to shut down the internal mean girl commentary). I would like to see me how he sees me. He can tell me, and he can try to show me, but my eyes/brain aren't ready to see.

fondue with cheddar

@gidgetjones Yeah, that's how it is with me. I'm not ready to see. When I see pictures of me, all I see are my flaws. When he sees me, he sees past my flaws, and in some cases sees my flaws as attributes! I want to see. I hope one day soon we will both be ready and it will be glorious. :)

fondue with cheddar

@packedsuitcase Good idea! Actually, I just thought of the perfect thing. He's working on setting up a new studio. I could promise him a photo session when it's all ready. That way it's a reward/gift for him, and it's time sensitive so I will feel compelled to fulfill my promise, rather than some nebulous "someday" as it is now. I'll think about that. :)

olivia

I think it's a great conversation to be having, and I'm glad the author wrote the book, because too many people just don't address obesity in their children. I know a few parents with overweight children and in my experience, they tend to say "Oh we're cutting back on treats" but then still buy the kid hot chocolate/donuts/ice cream way more often than is healthy, particularly if someone is overweight. At least the author took an approach based on science and listened to her doctor and met with a nutritionist.

I 100% agree with the quote in the story where she says "People are so critical of childhood obesity, and then you try to do something about it — to help your child — and they’re critical of that, too."

piekin

@olivia It's a worthwhile discussion to be having, but not at the expense of a young girl's privacy and self-image. People are critical of Weiss not simply because she tried helping her child, but because she "helped" her in a shitty way.

lisma

I've struggled and still struggle with an eating disorder, most of which is a consequence of my mother's obsession with my weight. Last fall, I developed a heart murmur while taking herbal diet pills. So, when I read this:

"At one point, early on, you tell Bea, “I know doing this is annoying,” and she says: “That’s my life. It’s always going to be my life.” I know hearing that made you sad‚ but do you feel like in some sense, that was your goal — you knew she was likely to have a weight issue to obsess about all of her life, and the hope was to teach her to obsess healthfully?"

it makes me cringe inside. So much of what I work on with my therapist is learning NOT to obsess, but if you grow up with a mother who is "obsessed" and teaches you in myriad ways to be obsessed as well, it is SO GODDAMN hard to unlearn that behavior.

Steph

@lisma stuff like this makes me so grateful that my mother did everything she could not to impart her own weight issues onto me. I realize now that she's been struggling with her own weigh for years and years, but growing up I didn't even know we owned a scale.

WaityKatie

@lisma Exactly. I was afraid to even try to diet for years because whenever I would try, I would teeter over into the food obsession/unhealthy fixation that my mother instilled on me with that first imposed diet. Kind of counterproductive to what my mother intended, I'm sure!

Megan@twitter

I haven't read the book, but does the mother introduce more activity into the daughter's life in addition to the dietary changes? Because you can count calories to lose weight for a time, but the true measure of long-term health includes being active.

bluebears

@Megan@twitter In the Vogue article at least, which I read, she makes no mention of any sort of physical activity.

Megan@twitter

@bluebears Well, that's terrible. At least if she were to engage her daughter in some sort of family exercise, she could teach her that she should want to be healthy and strong and not just lose weight for thinness' sake.

bluebears

@Megan@twitter (again, in the Vogue article) She even goes on and on about her own long term food issues and also about how she just personally hates exercising and was never able to get into it as a way to control her weight.

And despite what she now claims elsewhere she also talked about how her children's diet was wildly inconsistent before The Diet. How she would often let them get pizza as an after school snack etc and then suddenly decide the whole family was only eating veggies for a week.

ETA: Sorry. But as someone who struggled with disordered eating as a teenager/younger woman this person drives me absolutely nuts.

Megan@twitter

@bluebears No need to apologize, I'm coming at this from the same place that you are. After years of obsessing about thinness and trying to literally disappear, I'm finally healthy and striving just to be the strongest me that I can be. It took 30 years for me to figure that out, and I didn't have a mom undermining me from age 8 on.

I'm worried how long it will take for the daughter to figure everything out for herself. I hope she doesn't spend 30 years hating herself before she does.

bluebears

@Megan@twitter I feel the same way. Young women have a hard enough time cultivating a healthy body image without all that bullshit.

gobblegirl

@Megan@twitter The thing is, diet is a much more important factor in weight loss than exercise (not that weight is the only tile in the health mosaic, but it is an important one).
Counting calories isn't the only way to watch what you eat, but it might be the best one for her particular kid. It sounds like she did her best to make the experience not about body shame, but about improving her relationship to food.

Marquise de Morville

@gobblegirl What struck me as odd, was the idea that pre-packaged 100 calorie cupcakes are considered a treat(Unless it is the "eat what other children eat" angle.) Why not baking a cake together or actually making food, and knowing where the calories generate, and that the body needs some to grow but does not deal too well if there is a large excess.

Megan@twitter

@gobblegirl Sure, diet is more important if the focus is pure weight loss. But for young people, it might be healthier to flip it around and put the focus on activity - that way there is an accomplishment they can work toward that isn't just to be thinner.

gidgetjones

@Marquise de Morville Yes! If I were Bea I would love to learn to cook healthily. I'd think it'd make for a better relationship with and better knowledge of food. Pre-packaged, low- or nonfat foods are an easy go-to (I'm 50/50 when it comes to making myself healthy lunches vs. stockpiling Lean Cuisines), but whole foods in the long run are so much better than diet foods.

hallelujah

THIS AGAIN. So that Q & A wasn't so bad, but in the Vogue article she states that her daughter was often "humiliated" by her public excoriating of too many cookies or whatever. I'm no doctor, & I've only been a parent a few months, but I'm gonna go on a limb here and say that INTENTIONAL HUMILIATION should have no part in a child's relationship with their parent if it's going to be healthy & not extremely damaging in the long run. Gross, gross, gross.

Theda Baranowski

I'm torn. I remember the Vogue article, and it was terrible. And I still don't think Weiss pursued this issue in a healthy way. However, childhood obesity is a problem, albeit not to the extent that sometimes hysterical mass media wants us to think it is, and I'm heartened by the fact that Bea DID go to a nutritionist. I'm hopeful that she learned healthy eating strategies from the professional.

But as a lot of people have pointed out, Weiss humiliated her daughter during this process, and those tend to be the lessons that stick.

For myself, I lost a not inconsiderable amount of weight through WW, and I'm happier at my current size. I do sometimes feel like I can't say so on the blogs and websites I read, because it reads like I'm saying "hey I did this and so clearly EVERYONE ELSE CAN AND SHOULD" which I'm not.

piekin

@Theda Baranowski While Bea did go to a nutritionist, her wacky-ass mother will still be her primary source of food for the next decade or so. Weiss should have started off by seeing a nutritionist HERSELF so that she (and/or her partner) could come up with healthier meal plans for the entire family. I have not one iota of confidence that shaming an "obese" 7 year old into counting her calories sets her up for a lifetime of healthy food choices.

synchronized
synchronized

Did anyone here read this article from about a year ago? http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/01/magazine/tara-parker-pope-fat-trap.html?pagewanted=all

It discusses the inherent challenges in maintaining a lower weight (basically, your body is programmed to prefer the higher weight, and it will fight like hell to get back there). I'm not a nutritionist or doctor, so I don't know if a kid who's lost weight would experience those problems. But still, the fact that both our biology and the environment (cheap/plentiful fast food, high-calorie drinks, pressure to snack at work/parties) can often work against us makes a decent case for constant vigilance.

I think this mom crossed the line when she took her daughter to Vogue, and I think publicizing her struggles in a book is a bit gross. But I don't necessarily fault the attitude she wants to promote. If you've ever struggled with weight -- especially as a child -- and then fought your way to a lower number on the scale, you know that the hard work doesn't end when the diet does.

meetapossum

This makes me realize how difficult it was for my mom when I was growing up. I gained a lot of weight in 5th grade and stayed heavy until my senior year in high school. My mom was always slender growing up, so I don't know if she knew how to really go about helping me, but I know it hurt her to see me struggling so much. I remember visiting a nutritionist, going to Weight Watchers, her purchasing tons of workout DVDs for me. I didn't lose weight until I went to college (I literally lost 40 pounds without any inkling of how). I've since gained some back, but I've also learned a lot about how to eat better and stay active and healthy without obsessing over weight.

Guh, I gotta call my mom and tell her I love her.

Nicole Cliffe

I do not think you can ethically write a book about your child while your child is still a minor. If your child turns 18 and is cool with it, publish it then. There is no pressing public health issue associated with "affluent thin women can have fat kids too!" that justifies telling her story for her.

olivia

@Nicole Cliffe This would deprive people of knowledge and experience they may otherwise not be exposed to. And why stop at just books? Plenty of contributors on blogs (including The Hairpin) write about their experiences with their children. The issues discussed may not be as fraught as weight loss, but they still disclose personal information. I think framing childhood obesity and weight loss as taboo just contributes to the problem.

queenofbithynia

@olivia There are a billion ways she could have published without violating her daughter's privacy the way she did, starting with pseudonyms and no photos, and possibly no interviews. Actually that is only three ways, but they're pretty good ones. But to have thought of that and then done it would have required her to have a less slimy and proprietary attitude towards her daughter than she is exhibiting.

Trying to improve your child's health is praiseworthy; trying to modify your child's weight is probably forgivable. Teaching your daughter that weight loss is a life accomplishment to feel proud about is poison, and contributes no knowledge or experience to the world.

I became thin a few years ago -- you know, for kicks -- and I am pleased about it, though not proud (a crucial distinction.) I am not pleased to know for sure that my mom is happier about that than she was about either of my degrees. Probably this woman would not even be upset to learn that she is in all probability throwing away the respect and affection of her daughter in years to come -- probably it would only contribute to her sense of martyrdom (parents can't do anything right, nothing to do but staple our hands to our foreheads, everybody despising me is proof I made the hard choice, blah blah.)

adorable-eggplant

@queenofbithynia OH my god are there photos? My shy inner child is weeping.

packedsuitcase

@queenofbithynia I think you nailed it here: "Trying to improve your child's health is praiseworthy; trying to modify your child's weight is probably forgivable."

I think this woman is telling herself she's doing it purely for health reasons, but I don't buy that. I think there were a lot of ways she could have pushed the focus solely on health - from talking with her daughter about what the doctor said, by teaching her about what a healthy body can do and what it feels like, by keeping her daughter's value and her weight separate (which I'm not convinced she's done).

I'm not a parent. I may never be a parent. But I don't think I'm venturing to far into Smug Non Parent Land when I say that a base level expectation is that you will not throw your children to the wolves to get your 15 minutes of fame. She could have shielded her daughter from this and still written something that helped a lot of people, and she didn't.

packedsuitcase

@packedsuitcase too** Dammit, self, you know better!

adorable-eggplant

@packedsuitcase Or even by conveying to her daughter that being large and active/healthy are not mutually exclusive.

queenofbithynia

@adorable-eggplant Vogue photospread. Miniskirt.

And here is a gem, linked from the link:

When the little girl, now 8 years old, looks at pictures of her heavier self (not included in Vogue), she insists, powerfully, that “that’s still me. I’m not a different person just because I lost 16 pounds.” Most of us would agree that she’s right, but her mother doesn’t. “I protest,” Ms. Weiss writes. “She is, indeed, different.”

You could probably convince me that a young child needed to be on a regimented nutritional program, if you were a doctor and had some test results to wave in my face, but you could never convince me that this woman: "I’ve been on and off Weight Watchers, Atkins, Slim-Fast, LA Weight Loss, Jenny Craig, juice diets and raw-food diets" -- should be in charge of a little girl's brain. I'm not saying she, or anyone, is too fucked up to have a child but she is definitely too fucked up to feed one.

packedsuitcase

@adorable-eggplant Yeah, that's really what I was trying to get at. Healthy bodies aren't based on looks or size, and that's a lesson I think the mother needs to learn.

RNL
RNL

@queenofbithynia AH THAT QUOTE. That's the one that makes me sick. Her daughter is SO RIGHT and she is SO WRONG. Of course she's the same person, with feelings and thoughts and opinions AND BEING WORTHY OF LOVE. Jesus christ.

hallelujah

@queenofbithynia "I'm not saying she, or anyone, is too fucked up to have a child but she is definitely too fucked up to feed one." MOTHERFUCKING SLOW CLAP.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@queenofbithynia Oh Christ. "That's still me. I'm not a different person just because I lost 16 pounds." That is so heartbreaking that her mother refuted that statement. You can almost hear the child begging her mother for affirmation on anything that isn't about weight.

olivia

I think a lot of the comments here are assuming the author has certain motivations when we don't really know she actually has them. I haven't read the actual book (I don't think anyone commenting has, but I could be wrong) so maybe she does say "I'm upper class so I want a thin kid so that's why I did all this!!!!"

But from the Q&A, it seems like she did try to get her child to lose weight for the right reasons. Her doctor told her that her child's weight was an issue, she consulted with a nutritionist, etc.

packedsuitcase

@olivia All of those things are good. It's the choosing to put that out there in the public eye without thinking about protecting her kid or the fact that the kid might not want all of this attention that I disagree with. Learning to be healthy is a lifelong thing, and it's something I struggle with basically 100% of the time. But I feel like this woman could maybe take a lesson in how to be considerate to her kid.

kinbarichan

@olivia: Here's the thing, though - most doctors would suggest that you don't get children to lose weight if they're still growing. You try to keep their weight stable as they grow, so their height catches up to their weight. Also, height and weight don't always work in concert with kids - often, they gain weight and then have a growth spurt. So there were some good reasons for this mother not to panic about her kid's weight - she chose to freak out about it.

synchronized
synchronized

@kinbarichan But if HER doctor told her to do something, why should she have hesitated?

Weiss says: "Once a doctor has said, you need to intervene, then you need to intervene. Now, though, she’s a growing child, she needs to feel comfortable gaining weight."

As I wrote above, I'm not on board with the Vogue article or the book, but it sounds like a medical professional was pushing for weight loss.

Legal

@olivia She's spoken about her struggles with disordered eating in the interviews. This whole thing is clearly problematic.

WaityKatie

@RNL Yeah, and what's going to happen if/when her daugher gains some of that weight back, and the mom is all "disappointed" at her "failure" after she was "doing so well"? (Not that I have been through this dance before or anything, ha!)

Nicole Cliffe

I absolutely wondered that! Her whole life, she eats a cupcake and someone says "isn't there a book about how you got that whole thing under control?"

WaityKatie

@Nicole Cliffe Oh my god, junior high is going to be such hell for her!

Nicole Cliffe

@WaityKatie Honestly, though, everything that Bea SAYS HERSELF in her mother's writing is pretty profound and self-aware. She is the same person. She will always be the same person. Bea is a lot more realistic than her mother, especially surrounding The Fantasy of Being Thin TM.

TARDIStime

@Nicole Cliffe I think it's really important to make a distinction here - the direct quote from the mother was that she thought Bea was DIFFERENT. Not better, not worse, not more worthy to be part of society or less so.
Maintaining a healthier lifestyle will do that to anyone - it's scientifically proven that children who eat healthy foods and maintain a balanced diet are better behaved, get better grades at school and have more energy - this would easily be considered "different" by a parent.
My suggestion is that before we pour a scalding cauldron of vitriol on this woman, we consider the possibility that this was an attitude/behavioural change observed by Bea's mother in her own answer, but not considered by Bea, herself, in her own answer to the question - she may have been considering other components of "who she is" when answering that nothing had changed about herself.
Both answers could easily be "correct".
What I guess I'm saying is, we don't know. We're not observing them day-in, day-out - there could have been changes, or not. Only they can measure the subtle stuff (obviously weight loss is measurable to anyone with a scale).
Not defending her approach to her daughter's health/weight loss/attitudes toward body-shaming, though. That's all a bit murky (haven't read the book).

WaityKatie

@olivia My mom wasn't upper class, and she still wanted a thin kid. This pervades our whole society, and it's so f-ing toxic.

olivia

@kinbarichan But apparently *her* doctor did suggest the kid should actually lose weight. And she followed her doctor's advice. I get the concern for the child with publicizing the process, but as far as instituting a weight loss program, it seems the author really did follow her doctor's advice, as well as the advice of the nutritionist.

Nicole Cliffe

@olivia I'm interested to see what blogging about your kids will look like after the first generation of kids to have been blogged ABOUT begin having their own and telling us how they feel about it (having had their behaviors and weight and potty-training made public). I do not, personally, want to blog about my kid post-infancy, unless their identity is sheltered, and I wish this mother had made a different choice. As far as her choices in feeding her kid, it's her kid and her choices and her doctor.

kinbarichan

@synchronized: Her daughter's doctor might have said that; most doctors wouldn't. I think the mother was just latching on to whatever would give her permission to put her young daughter on a diet, because that's what she wanted to do. But to be honest, I take this whole daughter-on-a-diet thing personally because I was a daughter-on-a-diet since I was about five, and I honestly feel that, no matter what this mother tells herself to make slapping a cup of hot chocolate out of her child's hand seem like a good idea, she's hurting her child.

WaityKatie

@kinbarichan And, doctors are not gods, and many of them have the exact same weight prejudices that the rest of society has. OR, they're basing their recommendations on things like BMI, which I think we can all agree is a deeply flawed measurement of individual health. The responsible thing for a doctor to recommend, if he sees health problems (not just seeing a "fat kid") would I think be changes in diet and increased exercise, WITHOUT the goal of "losing weight." You can eat healthy and be fit without being thin, what a concept.

synchronized
synchronized

@kinbarichan I understand. But if Bea's doctor did encourage a diet, I think it's unfair to demonize the mother for following through instead of listening to "most" doctors. (They aren't the ones who know the kid, after all.)

What's this mom's own motives were -- and her reasoning for making this saga so public -- is a whole other story.

Nicole Cliffe

@Nicole Cliffe I am also having all the feelings about this because I am (regrettably) Lucille Bluth rigid about my own weight, but will do whatever it takes not to be Lucille Bluth-to-Lindsay about my child's.

piekin

@kinbarichan Correlation does not equal causation. Parents are responsible for feeding kids, which means that those parents who care enough to give their kids healthy, well-balanced meals probably also care enough to encourage them to do well in school and set behavioral expectations. Children who start eating healthier foods do not automatically turn into smart little angels - that's some major fat = bad bullshit.

piekin

@olivia Uh, actually Weiss DIDN'T really follow the advice of a nutritionist. From Jezebel: I called Dr. Dolgoff, the founder of "Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right," the Weight Watchers-style program that Bea based her diet upon, to hear what she thought of the piece. She said that while Weiss "clearly loved and wanted the best for her daughter," she "wasn't thrilled" by the article, especially since it somewhat misleadingly portrayed her program, which focuses on empowering children, stresses that parents refrain from embarrassing their kids in public, and allows kids a number of indulgences to enjoy with friends. "The program has to be run by the child," she said, "and the truth is that making a child feel bad only causes problems. It's not going to help with weight loss, and it's definitely not going to help the child emotionally."

Perhaps that's why Weiss and her daughter only used the program — which suggests parents come up with a "code word" to remind their children of their diet in public settings and, failing that, let them make their own decisions and discuss them later during doctors appointments — for a few months. "The parents aren't supposed to react in public," Dolgoff said. "They're supposed to be on their child's team. Another parent in [Weiss'] situation may have seen that, while weight loss was progressing, there were some emotional issues. But she chose to continue dieting in her own way. I believe that if she had continued coming, the end result would have been more than just weight loss: she'd have weight loss and a happy child."

WaityKatie

@piekin Yes, this. I was a well-behaved, high achieving child who was also Fat (as school bullies and my parents constantly reminded me). I was student of the month practically every damn month and I won every academic award possible and never ever got in trouble. Although I also ate a pretty balanced diet that was healthily cooked at home for me...and yet was still fat! Imagine that. And, even if the mom was referring to behavior changes (I find this pretty doubtful) it's clear the message was being interpreted by the 7 year old as "you're a better person now that you're thin." A 7 year old is not going to grasp that "you're better behaved and calmer and more wonderful now that you're eating a healthy diet." They grasp fat = "bad and ugly and I don't love you when you're fat," though, I can attest to that! Ugh.

noReally

The question, "What if your daughter grows up to feel humiliated and violated by your choice to get your 15 minutes and your book deal by making her vulnerable for life?" Is not fully addressed by, "She should not have those feelings. She should be proud."

Miss Maszkerádi

@noReally comment twins!

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@noReally "First I will colonize her body, then I will colonize her feelings and emotions. Her body will be my body, her mind my mind. I will live forever. Thinly."

Miss Maszkerádi

"How do you think your daughter will feel about this whole thing being published?"
"Oh, she should be so proud!"
"Yeah, but can you see how it might be a little embarrassing?"
"What? Nahhh! She should be so proud of herself!"
"So you disagree with the criticisms that you've been inconsiderate of her privacy?"
"Why should this be private? She should be so proud of doing all the work I put in to improving her!"
Etc, etc, etc.

Citizen Cunt

This part killed me so hard:

'At one point, early on, you tell Bea, “I know doing this is annoying,” and she says: “That’s my life. It’s always going to be my life.”'

That makes me so sad because I'm 34 and it has to be my life too and I resent it greatly. That is not a light thing for a little kid to say and that's just so terrible and sad beyond any description that my brain will give me right now. That's an old ass thing for a little baby to say. Jesus fucking Christ.

hallelujah

@Citizen Cunt So with you. I've always spent so much of my damn time thinking about food, & being thinner, & being fatter, & I didn't even have an eating-disordered mother to indoctrinate me in the first place. That this woman created that reality for her child intentionally makes me rage.

Citizen Cunt

@hallelujah I know, isn't it hard enough anyway without being purposefully programmed to think that way? I feel really bad for that little girl.

Megasus

Wow, I don't think she understands why that made ppl mad AT ALL. Like, it wasn't that she made her daughter go on a diet, it was that instead of teaching her daughter about healthy eating habits and nutrition and how to make good choices about food ON HER OWN, she decided to completely control how and what and when her daughter was eating, often IN PUBLIC. Which is like, how to create an eating disorder 101. Oh, AND she often projected her own insecurities about food which is also the completely wrong thing to do.
So, STILL MAKING ME RAGEY IN 2013 THANKS A LOT LADY.

pinniped

I ate three parent-made meals a day and the occasional snack as a kid, and we were all "normal" weight throughout our childhood. It wasn't until puberty that we realized we could take what we wanted from the pantry, and that that was kind of taboo, and that it had a direct effect on our bodies...and things got tricky.

I'm torn about whether it's better for a child to realize this connection early in life - like commenters said above, it could prevent later strife over weight, but it's also a loss of innocence that I find sad. Early-onset body consciousness. As a teen I thought I was fat. Looking back at those photos, I was not fat. Don't you hate that? Wishing you could go back to the weight you once spurned? I don't want this poor child constantly worrying she's not okay, when someday she might look at childhood photos and say "I was still beautiful."

(I understand sometimes weight intervention is necessary for health reasons. Still feel sad about it is all!)

WaityKatie

@pennylaner I ate three parent-made meals per day and was fat. My brother ate the exact same three parent-made meals per day and was thin. My mother ate those same meals (sometimes, she's more than a bit eating-disordery) and was thin; my dad ate them and was fat. Being overweight isn't necessarily what you get from sneaking food from the pantry, and I wish naturally skinny people could find a way to get that. (not directing this at you! Just seemed a convenient place to stick this rant). And I agree about looking at old pictures - not only with the weight thing, but I always think I looked nice and fine when I look at them now, but remember at the time thinking about how ugly I looked and what a bad picture it was...I wish I could be nicer to myself in the present day rather than five years from now.)

pinniped

@WaityKatie I understand! Sorry if it seemed like I was trying to make generalizations about others. Just explaining the seed of my own weight problems, and how they connect to my sadness for Weiss's daughter (and my past self).

adorable-eggplant

@pennylaner I think that's why so many of us had such a strong reaction to the article: we recognized a pattern from our own lives. Thanks for sharing. :)

fabel

"I have one non-obese child..."

After all this, she is still indirectly referring to Bea as obese. And that is like, #949820420 on the list of reasons why this lady still pisses me off.

TARDIStime

@fabel Agreed. This lady says some common-sense, practical things, but also there are some sentences in there I really feel squicky about. :-(

shadowkitty

This seems like a good place to put out something I've been wondering recently. My boyfriend has been making unhappy noises about his weight recently, and I've been trying to reassure him that I like him just the way he is.

However, I am a qualified running coach and (accidentally!) lost quite a lot of weight from it. Should I offer my services or would it undermine my reassurances?

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@shadowkitty Having been in your boyfriend's position, it worked best for my partner to say, "I hear what you're saying about being unhappy in your body right now. I hate it when you're not happy. I like your body as it is, but if you feel like you want to work on it, we could do that together if you want."

WaityKatie

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Or you could just offer to run with him, just as an activity that you could do together. Because running isn't automatically going to lead to weight loss for everyone, but it definitely leads to better health and probably could be fun.

area@twitter

@shadowkitty What Rose said. Also, just a reminder and I know you know this, but- if he refuses, please know that the reason likely has nothing to do with you. I really dislike both running and working out with family/loved ones, so in that same situation I would refuse your very kind offer- not because I don't appreciate it, but because it's not right for me personally.
You sound like an awesome person and significant other. Best of luck!

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@area@twitter Yes, this is also true. I don't like people I know seeing how physically inept I am.

shadowkitty

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose @WaityKatie @area@twitter Thanks everyone!

karion

I have so many conflicting thoughts on this, and I think that is one of the core problems on this topic.

On one hand, you can argue that because there is so, so, so much out there to fuck with a girl's esteem and body issues, the home should be the safe space. Just real talk in some mythical, healthy manner, about different body types and physical health vs. skinny, and acceptance and self-love, etc. No dieting or calorie restricting or deprivation.

On the other hand, there is so, so, so much out there that fucks with a girl's body image and esteem, the home should be the safe space where you have real talk about the cause and effect of food. Not just fat, but other things. I don't have allergies, but I have become pretty aware of how certain foods and ingredients effect me, and that was entirely through my own adult investigation and trial and error. And I can see the benefit of having real talk about this - nutritionally and otherwise - can take the mystery out of it and empower young women to be conscious (in a healthy, informed way) of how they fuel themselves.

I so want to give this woman the benefit of the doubt. I think she started out in the right place, and paid more than lip service towards doing the right thing. And I think that part of her story is interesting and thought-provoking, even if it seems like she didn't do all (or even most of it) right. Few parents ever get it all right, you know?

area@twitter

@karion That's the thing, isn't it? This is just all so fraught. The space between ignoring obesity and promoting thinness as the only path to self-worth seems to be razor-thin in our culture. And I have to think our diet industry is only making things worse (lose X amount of weight and you will be instantly attractive and worthwhile!).

BirdyAnn

I can't imagine what's going to happen when this poor girl hits puberty. I was a fairly slender kid, but once I hit 14 - hello, boobs, hips, and butt! My parents were blessedly sane about diet and exercise, but it was really disorienting to feel like I'd become "fat" all of a sudden. And it's taken me a long time to come to terms with the fact that even while eating healthfully and being active I'm going to be a bit squishier than naturally lean ladies.

packedsuitcase

@BirdyAnn Yes! I remember that transition - from almost awkwardly skinny kid who could eat anything and not gain weight to teenager with plentiful squishy bits. It's still really hard for me to accept, but I'm working on it.

Verity

Food/weight stuff is so hard, particularly when familial relationships are involved. In our late teens, my parents sat me and my sister down and gave us a talk (descending into anger and raised voices) about how we needed to be careful and eat properly and exercise, because lots of our female relatives are fat and it's so unhealthy. I just remember crying and feeling so horrible. My mum is still very weight-conscious - she's a nurse, and very aware of the potential negative consequences of being overweight (not that you can't be fat and healthy, or thin and unhealthy), and there is a certain amount of pressure and nagging. I feel like I can't be caught eating unhealthy things, for fear of getting yelled at - which only makes me eat too much of them when away from parental supervision, which is not great. It's all so fraught, and I really feel for Bea, even though I'm sure her mother meant well.

Speaking of cake, I have cake

@Verity That sounds awful. I'm sure your mum meant well, but that story reinforces my suspicion that a large (hah!) number of people in the medical and health services are extremely judgemental about weight and dress it up as a 'health concern' when really they're passing 'moral' judgement. Not that that was necessarily what your mum was doing but I've seen so much fat shaming coming from medics both professionally and privately not to feel pretty sure that there's a definite prejudice in medicine against being fat, a prejudice that has *nothing* to do with trying to improve health.

tea sonata

I started putting on weight at the age of about 5, or maybe 6? I was 100% definitely conscious of it. I was 8, and the whole class had to measure their own height and weight, so we could do a collective graph to prove a Bell Jar Curve was correct. Following that, I remember the sheer panic of being weighed, deliberately made myself go last (no hiding!) and being grateful that I knew the scale was 7lbs out, making me lighter, and therefore not picked on by other kids.

When I was about 7 or so, my mother (a nurse by profession) was obviously concerned about my size. She took me to a doctor, who made me do a 2 week Food Diary, logging everything I ate. The conclusion from the doctor was "It was just Puppy Fat, she'll grow out of it." Here's the kicker - I also clearly remember lying to my mother about stealing food out of the cupboard, mint chocolate biscuits. She'd known I'd had one in my lunchbox. In fact, I'd sneaked about 4 or 5 when I came back from school and she wasn't looking. This wasn't just a one time thing. I still do it. I weighed my age in stones until I was 13.

It's easy for me now to generalise and say, "I just eat my feelings", but I wonder how much Weiss's daughter actually is aware of what she was doing. Not to paint all children with the same brush but I suspect that Bea, in all likelihood, knows she's probably eating too much, but doesn't know why.

For her mother to choose to put her on a diet is a bold choice, and ultimately, a successful one! In the long run it's probably a good move for Bea. What I find weird is that the book screams "ME ME ME" about the mother, and the child is secondary. "I fixed my broken daughter, am I not to be congratulated?" Ugh. I would also like to know - What are the mother's eating habits like?

Bea's problems may be nipped in the bud. It may be a phase. It may not. She may find she puts weight back on, habits are hard to break. But what I hope does NOT happen is that Bea is consistently reminded of, "Remember that time you were fat? Which we have commemorated in this book? Because we are so proud of you?" Oddly shaming, makes me uncomfortable. Ok, this is probably me projecting, but I don't want Bea to feel a lifetime of shame from a period of her life she most likely won't remember the grand majority of.
Childhood obesity is one thing. Using your daughter as a crutch for column inches like some kind of project is not.

adorable-eggplant

@tea sonata Ugh. Dear elementary school teachers, Want to have a demonstration of the bell curve without making students feel uncomfortable? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOIasvt-wf4&NR=1&feature=endscreen Marble. How hard was that?

And I agree about the self-centeredness of the project. Err, and that it feels like a project rather than a series of parenting decisions based on an understanding of the child's best interests.

Blushingflwr

I really wish this were less about the daughter (and that it had been written psuedonymously to preserve the daughter's privacy) and more about the mother saying "hmm, my daughter is at a weight that her doctor says is not healthy for her. How can I, as her mother, model healthier life choices and help her learn about portion control." It sounds like the mother doesn't have a lot of knowledge about what is/isn't healthy eating and so wasn't able to provide healthy choices for her daughter (or her son). I think an article about "my daughter was overweight and this is what I learned from it" would be interesting, if it examined what she learned about her own eating choices and the ways that the diet industry fucks with our ideas about what is/isn't "healthy".

Allenwood

An enormous of the addicts getting dependent on drugs and alcohol might have kept going to use such resources frequently but Narconon Fresh Start has made them stop from doing all this any further.

Lucifer Williams

. I don't have allergies, but I have become pretty aware of how certain foods and ingredients effect me, and that was entirely through my own adult investigation and trial and error. And I can see the benefit of having real talk about this - nutritionally and otherwise - can take the mystery out of it and empower young women to be conscious (in a healthy, informed way) of how they fuel themselves scalp conditions

Ahsan32891

I was a very skinny kid, so when I hit puberty and started putting on weight I thought I was fat (though in hindsight I was still skinny, just softer and curvier). I didn't obsess about my weight because I didn't change the way that I ate, but I would always compare myself to other girls who were toothpicks and thought there was something wrong with my body. My mom always struggled with her weight but never let me see it (though once I did stumble across her package of Dexatrim).
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dennishobson

WONDERFUL Post.thanks for share..more wait .. …There are certainly a lot of details like that to take into consideration. That is a great point to bring up. I offer the thoughts above as general inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you bring up where the most important thing will be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged around things like that, but I am sure that your job is clearly identified as a fair game. Both boys and girls feel the impact of just a moment’s pleasure, for the rest of their lives. madeira palsticawm

psh
psh

I was a very skinny kid, so when I hit puberty and started putting on weight I thought I was fat (though in hindsight I was still skinny, just softer and curvier). I didn't obsess about my weight because I didn't change the way that I ate, but I would always compare myself to other girls who were toothpicks and thought there was something wrong with my body. My mom always struggled with her weight but never let me see it (though once I did stumble across her package of Dexatrim).Video

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