Criticism of Weiss spread like wildfire, especially after Katie J. M. Baker posted her scorn in Jezebel and described Weiss’ self-reported intense regimen of calorie restriction and public shaming as “abrasive, often irrational weight-loss strategies” and accused Weiss of projecting her hatred of her own body onto her child, and of writing the “worst Vogue article ever”.
Was Weiss wrong to put her daughter on a diet? Was the diet regimen inappropriate? Was its message misguided? Is being tough on your kid a parenting mistake?
There are situations in which action needs to be taken to prevent kids from further weight gain, and it’s definitely a parent’s job to educate kids about healthy eating and active lifestyle, and to provide for healthy food. There’s more than one way to obesity prevention and treatment in kids, and the discussion about what to do when a kid is diagnosed with overweight or obesity is an important one.
But here’s why I’m absolutely appalled by Dara-Lynn Weiss's piece: the Vogue article not only gave the child’s full name, it also displayed her photos.
A few days after witnessing the media party around the 7-year-old-on-a-diet, I read Elizabeth Weil’s Puberty Before Age 10: A New ‘Normal’? in the New York Times. This article opens with a story told by another mother, Tracee Sioux, whose daughter started growing pubic hair at the age of 6. Again, full name of the child, hometown and picture all included.
Reality TV seems to have dampened our instinct for privacy.
Adults willing to share tears and fears and humiliation with strangers are one thing, but dragging your kids exposed into the village square is an entirely different story.
Could anyone really imagine that a girl could benefit from the world knowing when her breasts budded?
So here’s an easy trick for moms with oversharing tendencies: Ask yourself this: if someone else revealed the information about your kid, would you feel comfortable? If your kid wanted to expose the information on the Internet, would you advise him to go ahead?
I’m sure most parents would be outraged if their kid's weight struggles, breast budding or pubic hair appearance were exposed by a reporter or a friend. They’d sue them!
Why did these moms do it? Weiss’ diet might have been designed to help her kid. Sioux might be thinking that she has an important story to tell.
But revealing the names and images served only mom’s interest – and was done for publicity and financial gain. Apparently, Weiss scored a book contract with Random House following her article. Sioux got to plug her “No Craptastic Ingredients” cosmetic line in the Times article as the solution to early puberty.
Every parent will make mistakes. I believe that kids are pretty resilient, and usually turn out fine despite the fact that perfect parents don’t exist. Our kids might be angry with us over what they see as our wrongdoing, but will forgive us – because most kids realize their parents do the best they can, and mean well.
I really can’t see exposing your kids’ private life for financial or any other gain as an act done in the kids’ best interest.