Move over, Tiger Mom. America has a new "mom-we-love-to-hate": Socialite Dara-Lynn Weiss, who forced her 7-year-old daughter, Bea, to lose 16 pounds through a strict diet, and then shared her tough-love techniques in the April issue of Vogue. Bea's pre-diet weight put her in the 99th percentile for girls her age and, like 17 percent of kids 2 to 19, she was officially obese. The article — and the news that Weiss would be expanding it into a book, thanks to a deal with Random House's Ballantine imprint — has incensed parenting bloggers, who call Weiss' tactics "disgusting" and cruel. Is it really so wrong to impose a healthy diet on a child?
How appalling: Fat-shaming your own daughter like this is "horrible," says Ashley Cardiff at The Gloss. Weiss put her daughter through hell, "publicly humiliating her, withholding cake at a birthday party," and subjecting her to treatment that "only a really, really, really questionable mother would [indulge in]." Then, to top things off, she "published her story in a magazine that deifies eating disorders." That's twisted.
"Vogue writer who fat-shamed her 7-year-old daughter gets book deal"
The outcry only compounds the harm: The family's pediatrician did say Weiss' daughter was "technically obese," says Isabel Wilkinson at The Daily Beast. But why not quietly put Bea on a healthier diet? By publicly documenting the drama and inviting a "damning media backlash," Weiss only magnified her daughter's humiliation. Now Bea will have other kids, their parents, and journalists — not just her mom — hovering and commenting every time she gains or loses weight.
"The biggest threat of Dara-Lynn Weiss and Vogue's '7-year-old on a diet'"
Actually, Weiss did us all a favor: "Instead of universally condemning Weiss," let's thank her, says Judith Warner at TIME. By daring to "come clean about her own demons," she "lifted the lid on the little-discussed but vitally important issue of how difficult it is for parents with their own food-and-body-image issues to nourish and nurture their children in healthy ways." She made the rest of us confront our own fears and flaws, which may be why we love to hate her.
"Why we should thank Vogue's diet mom"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Did the media get Ferguson wrong?
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- America's anti-feminist mega-corporations' toxic disregard for women must stop
- Keira Knightley on Laggies, relationships, and surviving your 20s
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- How did Rick Perry escape blame for the Texas Ebola outbreak?
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- What the Middle Ages can tell us about the GOP's big charity myth
- The U.S. is about to sell weapons to Vietnam. That's bad news for China.
- 10 things you need to know today: October 24, 2014
Subscribe to the Week