A Mother, A Daughter, A Diet--A Memoir
By Dara-Lynn Weiss
(Ballantine Books, Hardcover, 9780345541345, 256pp.)
Publication Date: January 15, 2013
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For readers of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and Bringing Up Bebe, a mother’s unflinching memoir about helping her seven year-old daughter lose weight, and the challenges of modern parenting.
When a doctor pronounced Dara-Lynn Weiss’s daughter Bea obese at age seven, the mother of two knew she had to take action. But how could a woman with her own food and body issues—not to mention spotty eating habits—successfully parent a little girl around the issue of obesity?
In this much-anticipated, controversial memoir, Dara-Lynn Weiss chronicles the struggle and journey to get Bea healthy. In describing their process—complete with frustrations, self-recriminations, dark humor, and some surprising strategies—Weiss reveals the hypocrisy inherent in the debates over many cultural hot-button issues: from processed snacks, organic foods, and school lunches to dieting, eating disorders, parenting methods, discipline, and kids’ self-esteem.
Compounding the challenge were eating environments—from school to restaurants to birthday parties—that set Bea up to fail, and unwelcome judgments from fellow parents. Childhood obesity, Weiss discovered, is a crucible not just for the child but also for parents. She was criticized as readily for enabling Bea’s condition as she was for enforcing the rigid limits necessary to address it. Never before had Weiss been made to feel so wrong for trying to do the right thing.
The damned if you do/damned if you don’t predicament came into sharp relief when Weiss raised some of these issues in a Vogue article. Critics came out in full force, and Weiss unwittingly found herself at the center of an emotional and highly charged debate on childhood obesity.
A touching and relatable story of loving a child enough to be unpopular, The Heavy will leave readers applauding Weiss’s success, her bravery, and her unconditional love for her daughter.
Advance praise for The Heavy
“Have you ever been ‘that mother’? You know, the one who others criticize or question? If so, then you know what incredible courage and daring it can take to raise a child in a way that doesn't always meet other people’s expectations. Dara-Lynn Weiss is inspirational for her sheer will, her unwavering dedication, and her willingness to take accountability for her own actions. The Heavy is a stark look at imperfect parenting—and why our mistakes make us better parents.”—Christine Carter, author of Raising Happiness
“Dara-Lynn Weiss had to defy her child’s school, the judgments of other parents, and our fast food culture to rescue her daughter from the epidemic of obesity. Parents should see this as an inspiration—and a wake-up call.”—Amy Dickinson, “Ask Amy” advice columnist and author of The Mighty Queens of Freeville
“The Heavy should be required reading for every parent because it tackles—with refreshing honesty—that universal question we’ll all face: how to do what’s best for our children, even when the kids resist our efforts and society judges our approach. Dara-Lynn Weiss has written a brave book and started a crucial and overdue national conversation.”—Abigail Pogrebin, author of One and the Same and Stars of David
Dara-Lynn Weiss is a freelance writer and producer of Internet, print, and television content. In April 2012, she wrote about helping her daughter lose weight in Vogue magazine’s “Up Front” column. She lives with her husband and two children in New York City.
When Dara-Lynn Weiss saw her daughter gaining a lot of weight, she put her on a strict diet. That decision made Weiss the target of criticism from her daughter, her friends and people who didn't even know her. Weiss talks about the experience, which she chronicled in her new memoir, The Heavy: A Mother, A Daughter, A Diet. More at NPR.org
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Advance praise for The Heavy
"Dara-Lynn Weiss had to defy her child's school, the judgments of other parents, and our fast food culture to rescue her daughter from the epidemic of obesity. Parents should see this as an inspiration-and a wake-up call."
-Amy Dickinson, "Ask Amy" advice columnist and author of The Mighty Queens of Freeville
"The Heavy should be required reading for every parent because it tackles-with refreshing honesty-that universal question we'll all face: how to do what's best for our children, even when the kids resist our efforts and society judges our approach. Dara-Lynn Weiss has written a brave book and started a crucial and overdue national conversation."
-Abigail Pogrebin, author of One and the Same and Stars of David
"Dara-Lynn Weiss has written a brave and honest memoir about what it means to be a parent, which is to say, sometimes we simply have to be the heavy-not because it will be a popular stance with other parents, or even with ourselves-but because it's our job. The love Weiss feels for her daughter, and the hard choices she makes to help her, are at the center of this daring book."
-Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion and Slow Motion
"Dara-Lynn Weiss is inspirational for her sheer will, her unwavering dedication, and her willingness to take accountability for her own actions. The Heavy is a stark look at imperfect parenting-and why our mistakes make us better parents."
-Christine Carter, author of Raising Happiness