Vogue mom’s essay about overweight daughter raises important questions

I was overweight as a teen and called “big boned.” I still struggle with comparing myself to others and wondering if I’m good enough the way I look now. I know that this is something so many people struggle with but it’s especially hard on kids.

In the April issue of Vogue, Dara-Lynn Weiss writes about her daughter being overweight and how she got her to lose weight. A Jezebel writer called Weiss’ article the worst Vogue article ever for Weiss’ dieting advice to her daughter.

What do you think? Weiss writes in the article that she didn’t give her daughter Bea dinner after finding out that she ate too much at school. She also writes “I often derided Bea for not refusing the inappropriate snack. And there have been many awkward moments at parties, when Bea has wanted to eat, say, both cookies and cake, and I’ve engaged in a heated public discussion about why she can’t.”

In the end, Bea loses sixteen pounds and gets to wear cute clothes in a Vogue fashion spread. But Weiss’ description of how her daughter Bea feels after losing weight makes you wonder if Bea is truly happier and how we really should talk to children when it comes to their weight:

For Bea, the achievement is bittersweet. When I ask her if she likes how she looks now, if she’s proud of what she’s accomplished, she says yes…Even so, the person she used to be still weighs on her. Tears of pain fill her eyes as she reflects on her yearlong journey. “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.”

How do you talk to your children about their weight?

Emileigh Clare

Multimedia copy editor at the York Daily Record/Sunday News

2 Responses

  1. ashley wislock says:

    That last quote about how the little girl tears up really struck me because that’s an experience many people who go through big weight losses feel. There have been several episodes of shows like “What Not to Wear” or “Say Yes to the Dress,” where people talk about not being able to see their new bodies and what a struggle with self-image they have. And these are adults, who have a lifetime of experiences and support systems to draw on – I can’t imagine how a little girl handles it!

  2. Emileigh Clare says:

    You’re so right, Ashley. So many people, Americans especially, have, had or will be overweight at some point. And we obsess and torture ourselves about it on a regular basis. The message that sends to kids is destructive. Even if we don’t talk about weight problems with kids, it could still end up being a case of “do as I say, not as I do.” But if we do talk about weight problems with kids that can backfire too. Especially if you don’t have a healthy outlook to begin with like the Vogue writer! I’m just glad I’m not a parent dealing with that. Poor Bea!

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