I’m sharing this from Margot Magowan’s blog because I think it is such a wonderfully written & very needed post. I don’t have children, but I know girls & even used to be one, so I do have a little perspective on the issue. Having worked in therapeutic foster care, I got to see some of the worst that these issues lead to. But enough about me, here are the first few paragraphs & a link to the rest (which you should click btw).
Dear Dara-Lynn Weiss,
I know you have good intentions: you want to help and protect your daughter, Bea. You want to keep her healthy and safe. Moms are told, in the pages of Vogue, no less, in ads like this one from Elizabeth Arden, that an important way to be a good mother is to make sure that our daughters are “beautiful.”
And that’s not just some crazy notion. Being “beautiful” for a woman has come to mean being successful, powerful, or important; being “beautiful” in our culture means that you exist. If you are “beautiful,” there is the promise that things will happen in your life: you will have adventures, excitement, love, and admiration. If you are fat, you may as well be invisible, right? I get that. You want your daughter to be popular, you want her to have friends, you want to spare her unhappiness.
But here’s the problem. It’s all a big lie, because what’s really happening is that you’re setting Bea up for a lifetime of enduring a distorted relationship with food, you, her own body, success, competition, power, and love.
You write that as a child, you suffered through your own issues of food, eating, and weight. That you hated your body and spent an inordinate amount of time trying to change it. Even now, you write: “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.”
It’s clear from your article that you have an eating disorder. You are still sick. In your NYC subculture, your behavior may even be “normal,” but it’s not healthy. You’re obsessed with food and weight. Your disease is contagious, and you’re passing it onto your daughter. The best way for you to help Bea is to stop focusing on her and start focusing on getting yourself better.
Read the rest on her blog: Letter to Vogue mom who put 7 yr old daughter on diet « Reel Girl.