A Life of Hunger Games: "Torturous cycle of thin-fat-thin, zero self-confidence & self-hatred, the tyrannic all-or-nothing relationship with food..."
We've all been talking a lot about girls and their body images, eating disorders and the impact of forcing young children to diet lately. The discussion was first sparked by now-infamous New York Tiger Mom, Dara-Lynn Weiss, who boasted to readers in Vogue magazine how she made Bea, her 7-year-old daughter, lose weight by demanding she follow a rigorous eating plan, strictly monitoring her every mouthful and humiliating her in public to keep her from eating. And now this week we get the news that a desperate bride-to-be paid $1,500 to have a feeding tube placed through her nose for 10 days to lose weight fast before her wedding day.
Tiger Diet Mom and Feeding Tube Bride
Weiss — and the feeding-tube bride — are taking a well-deserved intergallactic multi-media shellacking.
In my post about Weiss, Mom Forces Daughter, 7, On Strict Diet, I wrote about the way this mother chose to handle her daughter's eating and the tremendous cost to the child when her mother gets in the way of a girl's relationship with her own hunger and body.
While I tried to outline the potential psychological and physical damage that Bea, the 7-year-old daughter of Tiger-Mom Weiss, no one can describe the train wreck of eating disorders and pain better than the now-grown daughter of a very similar Tiger Mom. One such brave daughter wrote to me, sharing in devastating and insightful detail what Bea's future may look like.
If I could talk to Tiger Mom Weiss, I'd say this:
"In case you're wondering about the impact of your brutal approach to your daughter's 'obesity,' here is a note I received from a woman who was once the daughter of a mother who used food and deprivation as a weapon, who stole control of her daughter's internal appetite from her little girl—a little girl who grew into a woman who pays the steep price every single day for her mother's warped and damaging parenting. Here is the astonishingly honest, insightful and painful letter from a daughter trying to heal.
Hunger Games: Letter from a Dieting Daughter
"I can't keep quiet: sharing my story I'm shocked to realize there are more mothers who coach their children into developing eating disorders. I am the daughter of one such mother. For me, it started officially at age 10: mum suddenly started to monitor food intake, telling me to "watch it" as i'm "getting fat"... My body started developing - though ever so slightly - so I presume it was the budding breasts that made her believe I was gaining weight.
'A fear and mistrust of food'
She instilled in me a fear and mistrust of food. I recall with great clarity my first *real* diet, age 11 - a well-known "hospital" fad diet. I'll never
forget the thrill of being her diet buddy, nor the exhilaration I felt at the
decreasing numbers on the bathroom scale. Age 12 I had my own calorie
counter, courtesy of my mother, and used it expertly. I was addicted. I still am.
"Torturous cycle of thin-fat-thin, zero self-confidence & self-hatred, the tyrannic all-or-nothing relationship with food..."
I've been battling my weight (dare I say, struggling an unnamed/ undiagnosed eating disorder) for more than two decades. I cut out pictures of models in magazines before I knew terms like "thinspiration". Fasted more than a month before my 16th. Abused diet drugs & laxatives. Compulsively exercised. On one hand, it was a competition between us; on the other, a rebellious effort to
try and be "good enough".
As I ponder and research, I've come to realize it must've started earlier.
This distorted body image, the torturous and endless cycle of thin-fat-thin, zero self- confidence & self-hatred, the tyrannic all-or-nothing relationship with food... It isn't necessarily mum's fault, I guess. But it didn't help that she told 6 year old me that I couldn't do ballet as I was "too tall/fat/ clumsy/ big". I see a skinny, boyish child in old photographs and I feel confused.
Mother and Daughter Dieters: "We haven't spoken for years"
We haven't spoken for years and we don't see eye to eye. I've been in therapy for "mum issues" for over a year - and I have yet to gather the courage to tell my psychologist about this. I will, when I'm ready, when I trust her. I want to be free.
"My greatest fear is that I, too, will do this to a child"
My greatest fear is that I, too, will do this to a child - either through
example of unhealthy habits, or worse, repeating history. It is the very
reason I keep putting off having babies.
I pray for this little girl, Bea: may she find love and acceptance somehow, somewhere - as well as the strength and grace to live through what her mother does to her. Neglect or abuse, whatever it could be called, this ISN'T love. Not the unconditional kind we all deserve from a mother, at least.
"An eating disorder, the gift that keeps on giving"
Thank you for letting me confirm, through my story, that this mother is truly destroying her daughter: an eating disorder, the gift that keeps on giving. May God have mercy on her soul."
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