A Voguestaff writer, Dara-Lyn Weiss has found herself being publicly castigated after having written an article extolling her commitment to see her seven year old daughter shed excess pounds so she can approximate a weight that one supposes fellow Vogue alumni would approve of.
And thus begins a rigorous campaign to get her little girl to ostensibly be, wait for it, the thing that she wishes for herself. Over and over she regales herself to get her daughter, Bea to an appropriate comfort level size. The existential angst is immediately audible when Weiss recalls that a boy called Bea fat. Yes, the audacity!
Reflects Weiss in her article: Well, that certainly can’t happen in a home ruled by the sort of social striving found in the pages of Vogue!
From there Ms Weiss who one wonders was writing to please her editor Ms Anna Wintouras opposed to the readers who perhaps have their own 7 year old overweight child to prod goes on and on about her desire to maintain her family’s social standing. Being healthy and slim isn’t so much as valuable because it rejuvenates one but because it can get one in at the right party and amongst the chicest cache of society. Which is to say Bea whether she likes it or not is compelled if not for her own sake then for her mother’s sake to lose the pounds.
I stepped between my daughter and a bowl of salad nicoise my friend was handing her, raising my palm like a traffic cop. “Thanks,” I said, “but she already ate dinner.”
“But she said she’s still hungry,” my friend replied, bewildered.
I forced a smile. “Yeah, but it’s got a lot of dressing on it and we’re trying–”
“Just olive oil!” my friend interrupted. “It’s superhealthy!”
My smile faded and my voice grew tense. “I know. She can’t.”
Hungry or not, Weiss is having none of it. Her little Bea must come the date of her article submission resemble the precious thing in her mind. From there Weiss concocts even more devious strategies to deny her seven year old the stigma of unwanted calories:
Sometimes Bea’s after-school snack was a slice of pizza or a gyro from the snack vendor. Other days I forced her to choose a low fat vegetable soup or a single hard-boiled egg. Occasionally I’d give in to her pleas for a square of coffee cake, mainly because I wanted to eat half of it. When she was given access to cupcakes at a party, I alternated between saying, “Let’s not eat that, it’s not good for you”; “Okay, fine, go ahead, but just one”; “and “Bea, you have to stop eating crap like that, you’re getting too heavy,” depending on my mood. Then I’d secretly eat two when she wasn’t looking.
At least Weiss is honest enough to admit that she is a kind of a fink and not morally righteous as she’d like her daughter to believe, but then again one is compelled to keep their eye on the prize and look like a photogenic 7 year old vixen before mommy’s final draft is to be submitted.
To the glory of Weiss, her little Bea manages to shed a whole 16 pounds come article submission date, which precipitates a joint photo between mother and daughter that lands itself in April’s Vogue with the accompanying cache of free dresses as a reward. Yet even this moment is damned as Weiss’ suddenly realizes that in essence she has forever set up her daughter to be a walking time bomb and the kick start to all future eating disorders:
She will probably always want to eat more than she is supposed to. She will be tempted to make bad choices. But now she has the foundation to make these choices in an educated and conscious way. Only time will tell whether my early intervention saved her from a life of preoccupation with her weight, or drove her to it.
But the bullet that finally puts Weiss out of her misery comes when her Bea regales her mother upon looking at their joint images:
“I’m not a different person just because I lost sixteen pounds.”
Which forces the question, why is it so often that it takes a 7 year old girl to teach a woman 5 times plus her age to understand the most important thing in life that no matter where one goes, how much weight they gain or shed they will invariably be always stuck with oneself, as pleasant or as unpleasant as that may well be, coffee cakes or green salads with a single dollop of olive oil or not. Then again such things are often hard to see when one is valiantly trying to make themselves and those around them extensions of fleeting moments that themselves will no longer one day cease to be….