Burning Question

Is forcing a 7-year-old to diet cruel?

A Manhattan mom gets a book deal — and a torrent of online scolding — after hounding her daughter into losing 16 pounds, and then documenting the process in Vogue

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"

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