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Susan Cowden, MS

Vogue Causes a Stir With "Diet Mom" Article

By April 5, 2012

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The April 2012 issue of Vogue magazine is causing quite a stir among eating disorder activists and treatment professionals.  If you haven't heard, Vogue published an article written by the mother of a seven-year-old girl who had been classified as obese by her pediatrician.  The mother concedes to having many of her own issues with food and weight, even admitting to have dabbled with "the occasional laxative or emetic" as a teenager.  She even states that she is not qualified to help her daughter navigate the world of nutrition and weight.  And yet, she goes on to describe the diet that she forces her daughter on, describing situations in which she belittles her daughter publicly for wanting to eat more than was prescribed and depriving her daughter of dinner after she ate too much food at a school activity celebrating French culture.  Nowhere in the article does the mother address whether or not an attempt was made to teach her daughter how to listen to her body's natural hunger and satiety cues and the mother even admits that sometimes she would allow her daughter to have extra dessert simply because she wanted half of it.

Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD, co-author of Intuitive Eating describes the article as "unbelievable" and "disturbing" in her latest blog detailing the increased risk for both eating disorders and long-term obesity that this seven-year-old now carries.  Katie J.M. Baker called it the "worst Vogue article ever" in Jezebel.

I'm unsure why anyone is surprised that a fashion magazine such as Vogue would publish such an article.  The front of the issue contains six headlines encouraging us to change or improve our bodies in some way - including how to "raise your metabolism" and "age-proof your skin."  However, the article isn't without supporters.  Susie Moloney has written an article for Fox News in defense of the mother who she argues is doing the best she can to protect her daughter.  Interestingly, there are now rumors that the mother has now signed a book deal as a result of the article.

Have you read the article? What do you think about it?

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