I know it's hard to raise a child in this day and age for all kinds of reasons. And I know that one of those reasons is all the messages you get about your child and weight.
I know that parents often get shamed, these days, if their child's weight is too high (or too low). That there's enormous pressure for kids to slim down and look a certain way. To fit the current cultural norms around appearance and weight.
But for god's sake, I beg you, don't send your child off to a place like this. If you've ever been tempted to send your child off to fat camp, read this article in the Washington Post. Read about a "camp" where growing teenagerss are forced to eat such a low-fat low-everything diet that eight of them developed gallbladder disease in the last year.* Where six of them needed gallbladder surgery. Where kids routinely douse their food with ketchup and mustard.** Where hungry teenagers drink 12 or 15 cans of diet soda a day, all of it laced with Splenda.*** Where the director of the whole place thinks it's OK if kids gorge on cake occasionally because they'll just throw it up again.**** Where kids are put into "solo" when they break the rules.
Most of all, what a place like this does is reinforce the idea to your child that s/he is not OK as s/he is. That she's acceptable only if she loses weight. That she's not lovable as she is.
And that's the very worst part of this whole trend. As parents, we're supposed to build our children up, not undermine them. We're supposed to be voices of reason in a sometimes crazy world.
So if your child doesn't fit today's paradigm for weight or attractiveness, love her anyway. Tell her she's beautiful and strong and lovable and smart. Teach her to love herself. That's the way to health and beauty. The other will lead her down a lifelong path of hating herself. And I can tell you from personal experience that that's not the way to health and beauty.
*Gallbladder disease can be caused by weight loss that's too fast.
** A classic sign of malnutrition/starvation. The volunteers in Ancel Keys' starvation study did the same. So did my daughter when she was anorexic.
***A friend of mine was temporarily blinded by Splenda. She leaned over a pot on the stove at just the wrong moment, and was blinded by the chlorine gas released from the Splenda-laced concoction. You definitely don't want your child drinking Splenda. Especially not 15 servings a day.
**** As my friend Jane says, hello bulimia.