If an adult is overweight, they go on a diet and everyone nods their approval. If a young child is overweight, that same solution will have the kid's mom labeled the world's worst parent, therapist bait or, on a good day, merely abhorrent.
Last March, this is what Dara-Lynn Weiss found out when she wrote a Vogue article detailing how she put her 7-year-old daughter, Bea, on a rigorous diet involving weekly trips to a nutritionist, weigh-ins and struggles over sweets and treats that any parent and person on a diet could relate to.
By any casual or medical standards, Bea had a weight problem: She was 4-foot-4 and 93 pounds. It's how her mother went about fixing it -- and sharing that story with the world -- that ignited the backlash. Weiss stayed quiet through it all, but is now breaking her silence.
Ten months after Weiss' Vogue article was published, Bea's weight remains healthy and under control, and her mom has written a memoirdefending her controversial actions. "This was not a lazy child. She didn't eat unhealthy food. People make assumptions about obese children or their parents," Weiss told USA Today. "It's about my decision -- which was really difficult for me and my daughter -- to help her to be more healthy and more happy."
"People are so critical of childhood obesity, and then you try to do something about it -- to help your child -- and they’re critical of that, too," she said in an interview with The New York Times. "Parents can't win. I wanted to stick up for Bea and myself and my family and our choices."
Weiss says her turn in the public's ever-shifting crosshairs made clear to her the scrutiny parents may endure for every decision they make that's not unanimously approved by friends, family or -- in her case -- the public.
"The backlash was part of the whole reason I wanted the conversation to continue (by writing the memoir)," Weiss told The New York Times. "It's not really about weight loss," she explained further in USA Today. "It's more about the challenge of modern parenting where decisions are judged so readily."
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