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The Heavy
Cover of The Heavy
The Heavy
A Mother, a Daughter, a Diet—A Memoir
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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
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
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  • Chapter 1

    The pediatrician walked briskly into the examining room, grabbed the folder from the pocket on the door, and looked at the chart. Bea sat on the examining table in her underwear, her arms crossed over her body.

    "She's four foot four and ninety-­three pounds," the doctor read. Like all observations she'd made about Bea's health during the previous seven years, this one was made matter-­of-­factly, almost breezily. But I knew what was coming.

    "I need to get some help with her weight," I said, preempting the inevitable reprobation.

    "I think it's time," the doctor agreed.

    This was a moment I'd dreaded, and now that it had arrived, my heart sank. I'd chided myself about Bea's eating in the months leading to this annual checkup. The pediatrician and I had discussed Bea's escalating weight at our annual appointments for half her life. A year earlier, at the pediatrician's urging, I'd acknowledged that the problem had gone too far, and I'd promised to deal with it.

    I'd tried. I'd failed miserably. In the intervening year, my little girl's height had increased normally, while her weight had spiked a stunning twenty-­three pounds.

    Bea's weight was now equivalent to someone my height (just under five feet four inches tall) weighing 175 pounds. Her blood pressure was 124 over 80, up from 100 over 68 a year before.

    There was something about seeing those numbers written into Bea's permanent health record that triggered something primal in me. My reaction was the same as if I'd been told Bea had a potentially fatal allergy, or diabetes. Her weight pattern was no longer a simple parenting hurdle; it was a medical crisis. Something was threatening Bea's health, and I needed to protect her. I needed to figure out how to make the change happen.

    If I can look back through time and pinpoint the moment I sat up straight and buckled down, it was then. I knew that I couldn't let my own hang-­ups (more on those later), my parenting shortcomings (plenty of those), my fears of screwing Bea up (always, always), my concern about other people's reactions (ingrained, hard to ignore), and the overwhelming difficulty of the task stand in the way of helping Bea become a happy, healthy child. I didn't want my daughter to suffer the health hazards, the emotional pain, the social stigma of being overweight. The buck had to stop there. Even if Bea was only seven years old.

    Bea was born an alert, happy, beautiful little girl. She was healthy and met every milestone of physical and intellectual development heralded in the baby books on or before schedule. My only disappointment when she was a baby was that she wasn't a bit chunkier. The first grandchild born to my parents was my niece, at that point the single fattest baby I'd ever seen. And she was scrumptious! Giant eyes with never-­ending lashes blinking languidly onto tumescent cheeks. Her sausage-­link arms and gargantuan thighs were a total delight. We all wanted to bite her rotund belly, which no shirt seemed able to contain, and on which she rested her chubby hands with Buddha-­like calm. Then she grew into a healthy-­weight child, and her infant deliciousness was just a cute little footnote. So I'll admit that at first I was the tiniest bit let down that Bea's limbs didn't wrinkle with excess adipose tissue and that her stomach was flat.

    Bea had barely been around a year when her brother David was born. They were pretty easy kids. Bea in particular had a maturity and easygoing nature that made my husband, Jeff, and me suspect we were getting off easy in the parenting department. She didn't cry much. She was a reliably good playdate. She talked in full...

About the Author-
  • Dara-Lynn Weiss is a part-time freelance writer and producer of Internet, print, and television content. In March 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.

Reviews-
  • Abigail Pogrebin, author of One and the Same and Stars of David "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."
  • Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion and Slow Motion "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."
  • Christine Carter, author of Raising Happiness "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."
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A Mother, a Daughter, a Diet—A Memoir
Dara-Lynn Weiss
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