This Is Why Your Children Have Eating Disorders

"All I ever think about is whether my niece is popular, thin and happy enough," semi-insane publicity bitch and plastic surgery enthusiast Peggy Siegal tells Bob Morris in an article about over-involved parents and relatives who insist on making their teens' lives even more miserable than they might be otherwise. "One mother I know nags her daughter to lose weight," Morris writes, "Another tells her son to let his hair grow longer. Yet another encourages her daughter to stay friendly with popular girls who aren't nice. Today, when parents want to be their child's friends, stylists and social directors, the critiquing can be as brutal as it is in school." Although this article resides with all the other trendlets in Sunday Styles, parental meddling is nothing new. Several girls on my hall in college were subjected to constant haranguing about losing the freshman 15.

I still remember overhearing the tearful phone calls. One girl in particular stood out because her parents said they would buy her a Beamer if she lost 20 pounds by Christmas. I'm pretty sure she didn't end up losing the weight, but her mother did succeed in fomenting her daughter's self-loathing and bulimia. Great job, mom! My own mother, who is extremely slender and pushing 60, is still getting over the fact that in second grade she had the biggest waist in class and had to buy her clothes in the "husky" section of the department store. Consider this a public service announcement for the current and future mothers of America: being a teenager is hard enough as it is without your mom implying that you're fat and lame. Unless you're willing to foot the bill for the decades of therapy you're going to inspire, perhaps you should lay off your kids, mkay?

As Cool as They Want to Be [New York Times]