When a doctor pronounced Dara-Lynn Weiss’s daughter, Bea, obese at the age of seven, the mother of two knew she had to take action. But how can a woman with her own food and body issues – not to mention poor eating habits – successfully parent a little girl around the issue of obesity?
In this much-anticipated, controversial memoir in the vein of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and French Children Don’t Throw Food, Dara-Lynn Weiss chronicles the struggle and journey to get Bea healthy. In describing their process – complete with frustrations, self-recriminations, dark humour, and some surprising strategies – Weiss reveals the hypocrisy inherent in the debates over many cultural hot-button issues: from processed snacks, organic foods, and school lunches to dieting, eating disorders, parenting methods, discipline, and kids’ self-esteem.
Compounding the challenge were eating environments – from school to restaurants to birthday parties – that set Bea up to fail, and unwelcome judgments from fellow parents.
Childhood obesity, Weiss discovered, is a crucible not just for the child but also for the parents. She was criticized as readily for enabling Bea’s condition as she was for enforcing the discipline and, yes, the deprivation necessary to address it. Never before had Weiss been made to feel so wrong for trying to do the right thing.
The damned if you do/damned if you don’t predicament came into sharp relief when Weiss raised some of these issues in a Vogue article. Critics came out in full force, and Weiss unwittingly found herself at the centre of an emotional and highly charged debate on childhood obesity.
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