No Really, No One is Taking This Obesity Problem Seriously

Having written about our apparent ignorance of the “obesity epidemic” on Friday, another little gem popped up on earlier today.  Written by Dara-Lynn Weiss, she explains why she decided her daughter needed to go on a diet, and how she policed that diet.

She’d decided that 42kgs (about 96.2 pounds) was to heavy for her eight-year-old daughter, and, apparently, so did her daughter’s doctor.  Queue calorie counting over every single item of food that was to enter the child’s mouth.  Including while at a birthday party.  This method of dieting always means certain foods become forbidden, unless you don’t want to eat anything else for the rest of the day/week.  And, as often happens, once something becomes forbidden, it becomes relatively high on the ‘must have’ list.  Inevitably, this leads to arguments between mother and daughter, in public, which Dara-Lynn even admits were embarrassing.

Over the course of this diet, the daughter weighs in at 35kgs (about 77 pounds).  Dara-Lynn sees this as mission accomplished, that weight was their goal after all.  Nothing is mentioned with regards to how quickly this weight was lost.

Let’s take a look at how the daughter feels at the end of this:

When our appointment ended, Bea got dressed and we stepped outside of the office. I looked at her, beaming expectantly as we walked down the street. But she said nothing.

“How do you feel about all the weight you lost?” I asked her when we got home.

“Good,” she said, blandly.

“Do you like the way you look now?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said, definitively.

“Do you feel different?”

“No. That’s still me,” she said. “I’m not a different person just because I lost seven kilograms.”

She went on. “I’m not comfortable with saying, ‘Oh, yeah, I’ve changed everything and everything’s going to be perfect for the rest of humanity,’ ” she said. “I’ve changed half of the way, but not fixed my entire life. Because that isn’t true. Who can fix their entire life when they’re eight?”

“Well, no, of course you haven’t changed your whole life. But you’re not overweight anymore. You did fix that. That part of you is in the past.”

Her body tensed in my arms. She began to tear up. “Just because it’s in the past doesn’t mean it didn’t happen,” she said.

After sharing this revelation from her daughter, Dara-Lynn goes on to say:

I had believed that I could set Bea on a different track, that I could “cure” her of being overweight by changing her eating habits before her self-image dimmed so much that she came to think of herself as a fat person. But I was too late. Or maybe it was never possible. She had indeed changed her body and her lifestyle, but the metamorphosis was bittersweet, because it had cost her some of the innocence of her childhood.

(Emphasis mine.)  Because thinking of yourself as a fat person is obviously the most terrible thing that can ever happen to you.  This kind of thinking on her part is confirmed by an earlier statement:

…  Was admitting to being overweight any more humiliating (or obvious) than just being overweight? Wasn’t it less embarrassing to acknowledge it and let people know you were aware of the problem and doing something about it?

As a fat person myself, I just don’t understand how I can continue to live with myself each day.

Dara-Lynn also divulges that she also had/has issues with her own weight and self-image:

My MO has always been two-pronged: cover up my flaws as best I can, then lay them out on the table for discussion to expose my insecurity pre-emptively. Throughout all the years that I’ve battled with my weight, even as I sought to hide my body under layers of obfuscating clothing, I fessed up about my feelings to others. I was the girl you could overhear groaning, “Ugh, I am so fat,” as I patted my distended belly. If I had an obvious pimple on my face, I would attack it with concealer, then find a way to work it into conversation, just so everyone knew that I knew that they noticed it, and they shouldn’t feel awkward about it.

Let’s have a look at some of the numbers here:

  • The mean average height of an eight year old girl is 125cm (about 4’2). Source.
  • Starting weight of 96.2 pounds.  This equals a BMI of 21.7.  Normal weight is 18.5 to 24.9. Source.
  • End weight of 77 pounds.  This is a BMI of 26.  The overweight range is from 25 to 29.9. Source as above.
  • As much as I hate using BMI to measure anything, the range for being obese doesn’t start until you are at least 30.  This doesn’t stop Dara-Lynn from throwing the word obese around willy-nilly when describe her daughter’s weight.

Great work, Dara-Lynn!  You have successfully pushed your own weight and body image issues onto your impressionable eight year old daughter and taken away some of her innocence.

H/T @ColeyTangerina


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