On February 7, the weight loss company Weight Watchers announced the launch of a new program this summer that includes free membership for teens ages 13 to 17. And yes, it’s caused backlash. Some warn that young dieting serves an early precursor to eating disorders. Others wish that we could accept everyone, no matter their weight, NOT forcing them to try to be thinner.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I agree with both ideas. I went to Weight Watchers for the first time at 13. After that I went to a diet doctor, a behavior modification specialist, a nutritionist, many therapists and finally, a gastrointerologist and dentist for all the damage my eating disorders did to my stomach and teeth.
No diet or specialist helped. The Twelve Steps finally did, because I had to look at the underlying causes of my sickened eating. Food wasn’t my problem. Food was my solution – it temporarily anesthetized my pain, but I kept shoveling in more, because the relief was only very very brief.
I do remember my misery at Weight Watchers. What was so wrong with me that I had to get publicly weighed? Particularly at a time when I could not stop eating compulsively, no matter how hard I tried. Each week, the scale would swing up, and I could see the disappointment on the face of my mom, who waited expectantly behind me. She excelled at Weight Watchers, and garnered great applause each week from the ladies around us.
It wasn’t fun and it didn’t nothing for my self-esteem.
As always I wonder, what would have happened to me if it had been okay to be chubby?