There’s a really interesting article this month in American Vogue.
It’s by a New York mother about her fight against her daughter’s obesity. To explain to you in short, she put her 7 year old daughter – declared obese by her pediatrician – on a diet.
What do I think of all this? Well… After seeing the problem go on around me, I think there’s no ready-made solution.
There are kids who have a complicated relationship with food, whether those habits derive from their parents or not.
With some, it works itself out with age. With others, they need guidance and help so that what seems like a cute problem when they are kids doesn’t become a hindrance during the entirety of adolescence and adult life.
It’s case by case and there’s no ideal solution, just like there’s no perfect mother (Except for mine, of course. Love you ma!). And who can judge the relationship between a mother and her child?
This story shocked more than one… “How terrible!!! How could you put your child on a diet?!?!!”…
… But actually what touched me most in this article was the mother’s frankness and honesty, who had the self-awareness to recognize her own broken relationship with food, and admitting that she was taken off guard when it came to taking her daughter’s nutrition into her hands…
I’ve already talked to you about it, but since I got to New York, I’ve been fascinated - and terrified – by the obsessive relationship that people have with food here.
With friends, for example… You talk about food all the time. What you eat, what you don’t. What allergies you have. What juicing you’ve been doing. How you over did it at whatever restaurant the day before.
You talk about it all the time… In a very casual manner. Sharing the best macrobiotic recipes, new revolutionary diets, and the best fat-burning teas. But no one really talks about the more alarming side of these rather obsessive behaviors.
I ended up realizing that a lot of women are dieting most of the year, without really saying or even being conscious of it. And for a certain number of them, it starts to blur the lines with a perpetual anorexia, a somewhat not very healthy juggle between fasting, juicing and green tea.
I wonder what the result will be after yeaaaaaars of that “good” malnutrition.
It’s tragic, and seeing as so much of this goes unsaid, there’s no way to help.
The article in Vogue, through the voice of the mother, Dara-Lynn Weiss, gives voice to some of these behaviors :
“Over the last 30 years, I’ve been on and off Weight Watchers, Atkins, Slim-Fast, La Weight Loss, Jenny Craig, juice diets, and raw-food diets.
I have not ingested any food, looked at a restaurant menu, or been sick to the point of vomiting without silently launching a complicated mental algorithm about how it will affect my weight.
As a parent, after five months of Weight Watchers rid me of the 20 pounds I’d put on during two pregnancies, I felt I’d reached a stable equilibrium. My weight went up and down, but never more than a few pounds. I felt pretty normal. And I looked pretty normal. But, like many women, I wasn’t really normal. I kept my weight in check by alternating between extremes. I balanced my inclination to indulge in cheeseburgers and cupcakes by penitent three-day juice cleanses.”
Normal ? Woooh… I personally find that pretty scary. And I also think that, thinking about that 24/7 not only ruins your health but simply ruins you everyday life.
So of course, some can be shocked that that mother exposed her food obsession and her daughter’s weight problems (not anonymously at all, and with happy-happy post-diet pictures), but to me, it’s a testimony, not a life lesson.
And I find it good that Vogue, through that testimony, breaks the silence of one of those “normal” women that life with a food disorder all their life.
What do you all think – do you know a lot of women who have this kind a relationship with food ? Do you have a complicated relationship to your weight (I did at a certain moment). Do you feel free to talk about it around you ?
Translation: Tim Sullivan