I don’t know Dara-Lynn Weiss personally, but I was recently asked by CityNews to comment on her. I had read Weiss’ story in Vogue last year. She also currently has a memoir in the works titled The Heavy.
Thinking she could potentially help other parents of children who were battling weight issues, Weiss agreed to publish a story about how she helped her daughter, Bea, then seven, go on a diet to lose 16 pounds in one year. (She was four foot four inches and weighted 93 pounds when she began.) And then, the backlash began.
I know that Weiss is a mom, just like me. We are also both writers. And, if I were to guess, I would bet that she is extremely protective of her children and tries to do what’s best for them.
I don’t want to jump on any bandwagon, either for or against her: I really try hard not to negatively judge other parents. I truly believe the majority of us are doing the best we can with what we’ve got. But as a writer and a mother, both Weiss and I have something significant in common: We both make decisions as to how much we include our children in our stories, and how that will impact them now, and in the future. We weigh that against how sharing our personal stories can help others in similar situations.
As a parent, I know nothing reassures me more than when I speak with another mom who has dealt with their child’s sleep anxiety or learning delay. When I was going through fertility treatments, the only thing that kept me going (other than my immediate family) were the strangers I met in online forums who could relate to the rollercoaster ride I was on month after month. But, as my kids grow, I consider if they would be embarrassed if, say, I published a picture of them all sharing a bed as I did in our February 2013 issue. (FYI: I asked their permission first.)
And as the editor of Today’s Parent (the best job in the world!), I have access to tons of research that says our readers like to hear from other parents, too. In fact, many prefer to hear from real moms over industry experts. But given the backlash over Weiss’ controversial decision to put her daughter on a diet, this makes me wonder where to draw the line when it comes to writing about your children.
Would you have gone to the lengths Weiss went to in order to have your child lose weight? Do you think the author shared too much of her daughter’s life?