Sweet Louise. We were aghast at the bully-parent tactics of The Tiger Mom, Amy Chua, feeling that rewarding someone with such obvious control issues a book deal and mass of TV appearances was just another sign that society has clearly lost it’s way, but wait! A new more sinister mommy gains tons of media exposure for her wicked treatment of her daughter and her supposed “weight issues.” Current reigning evil doer Dara -Lynn Weiss has certainly caught the attention of the press with her article in Vogue Magazine – signature sites like Salon.com, The Huffington Post Jezebel (received over 600+ comments on this) and the NY Times cover this absurd woman’s idea of parenting – we’re disappointed to see this rewarded, and agree with one NY Mag writer who wrote, “I’m pretty sure Weiss just handed her daughter the road map to all her future eating disorders.”
The ful coverage comes from the NY Times and QG WD wants you to know and to comment if you feel so inclined – is this just too much? Are we validating now all the messed up mothers out there who have been dying to starve their kids into thinner bodies? By granting this kind of exposure and dear God, a book deal no less, are we communicating it’s OK to push your children into a life of eating disorder thinking? We do not support any level of childhood obesity, but seriously? Putting a 7 year only on a strict diet for wanting to enjoy snack at school? Let us know what you think, we’re not at all pleased Random House, not at all. Calling the book “The Heavy?” Appalling.
Read the story…
THE high-achieving mother publicly laid out her methods, strict and punishing. She wrote of how her young daughter, told that she needed to change, resisted, rebelled, sometimes threw a tantrum. But in the end, the mother proclaimed, her tactics triumphed.
Alarmed that Bea, at 4 feet 4 inches tall and 93 pounds, had developed habits like scarfing down “adult-size plates of food” and failing to “self-regulate” at the preschool snack table, Ms. Weiss placed her on a strict diet, cutting the size of her dinners in half and banning almost all desserts.
“I once reproachfully deprived Bea of her dinner after learning that her observation of French Heritage Day at school involved nearly 800 calories of Brie, filet mignon, baguette and chocolate,” she wrote. “I stopped letting her enjoy Pizza Fridays when she admitted to adding a corn salad as a side dish one week.”
On the Internet, Ms. Weiss was quickly excoriated as one of the most “selfish women to ever grace the magazine’s pages,” wrote Katie J. M. Baker in a widely distributed post on Jezebel that drew more than 600 comments. ABC News sternly reported that “Mom’s Diet for 7-Year-Old Daughter in ‘Vogue’ Sparks Backlash.”
Ms. Weiss had her defenders: Some online commenters praised her for tackling her daughter’s weight issues, pointing out that it was Bea’s doctor who said that there was a problem. Others wondered if her frank discussion of it made Ms. Weiss appear tone deaf. (Bea “didn’t strike anyone as ‘obese,’ but, in truth, I liked that the word carries a scary, diagnostic tone,” Ms. Weiss wrote.) One commenter on nymag.com wrote, “I’m pretty sure Weiss just handed her daughter the road map to all her future eating disorders.”
Then on Monday, Random House made an announcement that dumped gasoline on the flames: Ms. Weiss had scored a book contract.
“Fat-Shaming a Child Into a Book Deal,” a headline on Salon huffed in protest.
“So that’s how you get a book published, ladies,” Mary Elizabeth Williams wrote on Salon. “Just write an article about what a mean mommy you are, get a lot of sexy media attention and hate mail for it, and watch the bidding war commence!”
It was bad enough, the thinking went, to write about your daughter and her weight problems in Vogue, possibly the spiritual home of the eating disorder. But to get a book deal out of it?
Yet anyone who observed the literary phenomenon that was “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” by Ms. Chua, published last year by the Penguin Press, knows that if there was ever a time when parenting books had to be calm and gentle, with soothing advice for sorting out the mysteries of rearing children, this is not it.
Ms. Chua’s book, which sold more than 150,000 print copies, signaled a modern approach to the genre: outing yourself as a more unyielding kind of parent, the type who makes her daughter practice piano for hours every day or dresses her down in front of her friends for coveting that second cupcake at a birthday party.
When Ann Godoff, the president and editor in chief of the Penguin Press, first read the manuscript of “Tiger Mother,” she knew it wasn’t a typical guide to parenting.
“At the very start, I just thought it was a hell of a good book,” Ms. Godoff said in an interview. “What it became was a new kind of parenting memoir.”
Alisa Schnaars, a buyer at Barnes & Noble who orders titles on parenting, said that before Ms. Chua’s book, she couldn’t remember a book in the genre that had so inflamed the public.
Before “Tiger Mother,” the category was dominated by “more of a Hallmark vision of parenting,” Ms. Schnaars said. “It was very ‘Here are the challenges and here’s how we overcame them, and everybody lived happily ever after.’ ”
After “Tiger Mother,” she said, the doors opened to books like Ms. Weiss’s, the ones that don’t try to be soft.
These days, the parenting books crowding the front tables at Barnes & Noble tend to have an element of tough love, the accounts of parents who — even if they don’t qualify as Tiger Mothers — learn to impose suddenly harsh restrictions on food when the family moved to France, for example, as in “French Kids Eat Everything,” by Karen Le Billon, which will be published on Tuesday by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins.
In “Bringing Up Bébé,” another parenting memoir and currently No. 9 on the New York Times hardcover nonfiction best-seller list, the journalist Pamela Druckerman wrote of how she trained her own children — using a firm “non” — by borrowing methods from the notoriously strict French.
Cassie Jones, the editor of “French Kids Eat Everything,” said that even the books that are kind and gentle compared with Ms. Chua’s could be seen as flying in the face of the current craze for permissive parenting.
“If it’s not a little countercultural, then what’s the point of doing the book?” she said. “There’s something about these books on parenting that gets people angry.”
Even as Ms. Weiss has been pilloried on morning talk shows and gossip blogs, she seems to be lying low. Through her publisher, she declined a request for an interview.
Asked about the book deal, Libby McGuire, the publisher of Ballantine Bantam Dell, the division of Random House that acquired Ms. Weiss’s book, wrote in an e-mail: “Indeed there is a new and important category of parenting narratives that examines all aspects of raising children today, which is why we were early on so interested in talking with Dara-Lynn Weiss about her perspective, and ultimately acquired her memoir. Clearly her story and the issues she’s exploring have resonated with so many people, and we look forward to publishing Weiss’s book.”
Ms. Weiss’s literary agent, David Kuhn, described her as solidly middle class (in Manhattan terms). She and her husband, who works for a nonprofit organization, live in a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan with their two children (Bea has a younger brother, David), who attend public school.
Ms. Weiss is a part-time producer for Internet and television, Mr. Kuhn said, with a career that has included developing and producing content for the Web and print for employers like Time Inc., Warner Brothers, Condé Nast and AOL.
He acknowledged that Ms. Weiss, whose methods eventually helped Bea lose 16 pounds and achieve a healthy weight by age 8, has come across as a provocateur in the mold of Ms. Chua.
“I understand where the comparison is coming from,” Mr. Kuhn said. “What is interesting and original and fresh about Dara’s book — and, I guess, provocative — is that she’s dealing with something that isn’t often dealt with directly or publicly. It’s maybe breaking a bit of a taboo to even talk about weight.”