Too thin?

Received Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Opinion 4 I have a unique dilemma. Our nanny has been with us for about 18 months. She works four days a week taking care of our children. The four days she works in the home, I am out of the picture, so she handles all school pick ups, drop offs, playdates and practices. As a result, she has contact with many of the mothers I associate with the other three days. A handful of mothers have approached me to express concern over our nanny's weight. I know this is a very sensitive subjects. I explained to the first two people that her weight was a personal issue and I wasn't getting involved. I believe people took this to mean I did not care about the nanny. That is not the case. When the nanny started working for us, she probably weighed about 50 pounds more.  The weight came off gradually and in the beginning she talked about the gym and her diet.  It does appear that she may be "too thin", but I don't know how I would bring this up, if even at all. I believe that is her business, but at the same level, I feel that having had five people approach me in the past four weeks, that she should perhaps at least know. I believe my nanny is very loyal to our family and I feel like I am keeping this from her. As an aside to that, if my nanny needed any help with any problem, medical or otherwise I would help her in any way I could.


Nanny in AZ said...

First, your nanny is very lucky to have such a caring employer! I have been blessed with caring employers as well and am saddened for the many nanny horror stories I read on here (both posted by nanny and employer).

Onto the topic- true it is a personal matter; however, if you are really close with your nanny I think you could lovingly mention it over coffee (perhaps take her out for a little coffee treat). Just let her know that you appreciate the hard work she does for your family, you care for her like family, and generally discuss if everything is going ok in her life. You can bring up that you've just noticed some pretty significant weight loss and you just want to make sure she is healthy.

I think there is a caring, respectable way to handle it. You seem very kind and I'm sure you would handle it with grace. :)

Bostonnanny said...

Im naturally very skinny(size00) and people often comment about my weight saying I must have an eating disorder. It hurts a lot even tho I heard it all my life. I would be upset if my employer commented on my weight in a negative way or told me what others have said to her. Your either too skinny or too fat in this society no one is ever happy.
If you truly feel that the weight loss is life threatening then say something but think very carefully about how you say it.
My thought is that your nanny has lost so much weight that some people who don't see her everyday like u do, didn't
realize that it happened after months of dieting. They prob believe it happened over night. Also, a lot of mothers like to gossip or are insecure themselves possibly because they haven't lost all the baby fat yet, so they are targeting your nanny.

AMom said...

I agree with the poster above. I myself have recently lost 60 lbs., I was overweight to begin with, and I have had people on the street who I see in passing here and there actually ask me if I lost the weight on purpose or if I was sick or ill. These are people who only see me sometimes at the store or in the park, etc., so, last time they saw me, I was heavier, now I am thin, I guess that is where the concern comes in.

If your nanny has been dieting and working out, then she was trying to lose weight and perhaps would feel bad about her hard work if something was said. I understand your concern, but, if you choose to approach her about this, I would be very careful about it. Perhaps mention it in a joking way?

TC said...

Wow, do you by chance live in Ohio because this sounds just like my best friend who's a nanny.

I don't think there is anything you can say and I'm in sorta the same boat. My best friend lost about 50 pounds by diet and exercise and now to me she's way too skinny, she's just barely over 100 pounds and she's even stopped having her period because she doesn't weigh enough. I've tried talking to her but it gets me no where and I'm her bestfriend. I doubt as an employer there is anything you could say that wouldn't offend her.

NJNANNY said...

When I started working with my current nanny family 5 years ago, I was suffering through some food issues. For me, it was simply a diet that got a little out of hand and I ended up losing much more weight than I needed to. 3 months in to my employment with this family- my boss mom decided to talk to me. She just started the conversation by saying in a very loving way that she thinks I do a great job taking care of her kids and that there was never a second thought in her mind that I am the best nanny they could have dreamed for. She then asked me how I was feeling in general. I told her I was a little tired. She then very gently but directly told me she was a little concerned about my weight loss and asked me very lovingly if I needed her support through anything that might be going on and reassured me that she would be there for me. At that point, I broke down and confessed how I just could not stop dieting. She helped me through it, and got me help from a nutritionist that she knew. I got better soon after that. But, that was just my circumstance and I felt comfortable talking to her. Your nanny may react differently than I did.

ED's kill said...

You have every reason to be concerned. If she has an eating disorder, her life could be in jeopardy. Signs of an ED are restricting amounts of food, restricting certain food groups, eating in private, binging and purging (or just purging), using laxatives and/or diuretics, using diet pills, over exercising, unhealthy preoccupation with food shows or cooking for others, or any other obsessive behavior relating to food.

Anorexia is the number one killer among mental illnesses. It has a very high death rate. I don't see any reason why you can't sit nanny down and mention the weight loss and just tell her you are concerned. Maybe suggest a visit to a doctor. She could simply have just lost too much weight - doesn't mean she has an eating disorder. Maybe she needs to see a nutritionist so she can learn how to eat a proper diet and maintain a healthy weight. Don't tell her she is too skinny - just say you are concerned about her health. If she has an ED or poor body image, you could perpetuate the ED if you focus on her body or how she looks (even if she looks horrible - looking horrible is pretty much what anorexics strive for). Maybe focus on how she feels. Good luck and keep us posted.

~From someone who has battled with anorexia for 30 years~

Ms. Vivienne LePeaux said...

It can be very difficult to tell if someone has anorexia if it's a person you don't live with or have close contact with on a regular basis. They hide their "behaviors" very well. So who knows if your nanny is in trouble or not.

BUT -- here are the facts. You DO suspect something, and that something is a very serious, dangerous mental illness. Life-threatening. Do you want to avoid bringing it up when the life of your children may be in the hands of a mentally ill person? I wouldn't. If she is anorexic, it is a progressive disease and she will only get worse without intervention.

Even if you are wrong and it might hurt her feelings or offend her, too bad... the welfare of your children has to be your top priority.


First she is to fat now she is to thin, sounds like you will never be happy with her weight. Sounds like a lot of jelous women, kinda like when you go to the swim club with the kids and all the unattractive moms are making nasty comments about the tall, stuning swedish au pair, because their husbands are hanging out at the toddler pool because that is where miss sweden is!

mindyourbeezwax said...

MYOB. And don't put so much stock in what the other mothers are saying. You sound like you're in middle school.

alex said...

Your nanny is very lucky to have you as her employer! I think since 5 people have approached you maybe you should mention it to her. She may get really defensive but she may need help. I would do it in the right situation and let her know that you are here for her and is she having any problems. Maybe think about other factors she has as to why this is happening. Does she have a boyfriend, could he be an issue? Family close by? etc. Just think about everything before you bring it up but I do agree that having 5 people bring it up in the last few weeks it does need to be addressed. Her health could depend on it.

why do people attack the OP? said...

um monkeyshines she never once said she was too fat! and she said, "her weight was a personal issue and she wasn't getting involved." you obviously have issues with something in your life that caused you to attack to OP and attack her by saying things she never said.

Now, I wouldn't be surprised if you weren't also MYOB with the comments on that one too. Anorexia is a SERIOUS condition that causes death. It does need to be taken seriously and the fact that give people have come up in 4 weeks to say something means it should be given extreme consideration and thought. If I had an illness that attacks your thoughts and mind like anorexia does, I would want someone to help me. I have seen the effects of it firsthand on my best friend and my sister, you can't fight it alone.

MissMannah said...

I don't know if I can agree with the previous posters. It just sounds to me that your friends are a bunch of busybodies. Yes, eating disorders are to be taken seriously, but you mentioning something will only make things worse, no matter what's going on. If she's anorexic, you'll be losing a nanny because she knows you know. If she's not, you'll probably still lose a nanny because she'll be embarrassed that you think she's "too skinny." I don't see how anyone but a doctor can make that kind of assessment anyway.

Two cents said...

You could mention it, and just say that the reason you are bringing it up at all is because you have had people mention their concern to you. (Do not tell her, of course, who actually said it to you.) Keep names out. See how she reacts. If she just shrugs it off, then go no further and mind your own business. But if she seems like she wishes to discuss it further, by all means let her know you are there for her for whatever she needs. You sound like a very caring employer who isn't just thinking of yourself. Regardless if your nanny seeks your help or not, she is truly blessed to have you in her life.


when I used to be a live in, this is what I noticed and I did have a friend who was a swedish au pair. when you are more attractive than the mom, you are taller, built and pretty the mom gets jealous and starts to look for things wrong. if she doesnt take care of her looks and you are up at 5am pumping iron and watching what you eat because you take pride in your looks, the flabby,stretch mark covered boobie down to your waist that you have to roll up to get into your bra stretched out belly and according to some of the fathers I have diddled, other parts are stretched out and sex is never the same, mom, you get jealous of the nanny and start making digs at her
I have been in this situation and it does happen there are more nannies out there but they havent found this blog yet

chick said...

Monkeyshines, do you spend your time in line at the free STD clinic posting here and trying to shock everyone by constantly discussing how many employers you've had sex with?

If so, I have a news-flash for you. People who read your posts fall into several categories:

1) Oh man, what a skank that one wants us to think she is. Yawn.
2) More bragging from her? Yawn.
3) Boring! Yawn.

I get that you feel the need to brag about yourself. Really, I do. Because if you really spread your legs for your bosses that often, you have NO self-esteem, and coming here to try to yank people's chains makes you feel better about yourself.

So keep telling us what a slut you are, and we'll keep on yawning. Or maybe you could log off, and seek some psychiatric assistance so that you can discover why you feel compelled to whore around and then tell strangers on the inbternet about it. Whichever.


sorry my posts have such an impact on you! mabie you need to talk to someone!
jealousy, females getting catty towards another who looks better than them, happens in the workplace all the time just happens when you are a nanny your workplace is someones home!

Duffa's Friend said...

I think you are a beautiful mother and I only hope when I come overseas I am lucky enough to get someone as caring as you.
I really liked NJNanny's response and what her employer did maybe take her out for a coffee or even at home make her a cup of tea (obviously in quiet time when kids aren't around and you both won't be distracted) just chat generally and just in conversation are you still going to the gym, you've lost lots of weight, everything ok are you a bit stressed cause if you are I'm happy to help/support time off?
Other posters may be right busyboder other mothers or jealous but the fact is you have noticed too and you come from a caring place even if the other don't - but they probably do too. just watch her reaction she may brush it off just go with it. Everyone is so quick to jump to eating disorder these days it may be but it might not be.
You are aware of your own concerns so just keep an eye on her to make sure she is ok.

Girls above... really?!? We're here to support and help eachother what with all the bitching?

Anonymous said...

MYOB If both the OP and MB worked in an office together, would the MB walk up to the OP and say anything about her weight? I don't think she would. I don't see why working in a home rather than an office should make a difference.

The only way this is the MB's business is if the nanny faints. That could interfere with taking care of the children.

Being thin doesn't necessarily make you sick. The more muscles you have, the leaner you are, the smaller you are, and ironically, the more you weight, as muscle is heavier than fat. I'd stay out of it.

Just My Two Cents Just Now said...

Village, being a nanny and working in someone's home is so much more different than working side by side in an office environment. The dynamics are completely different so there is no comparison between the two.

BeenThere said...

I nannied all four years of college and was actually on the other side of this situation. My sophomore year of college I was working for a family for two years and had a great relationship with both parents and the kids. During my time working for them, I fell back into a vicious cycle of anorexia that had been a huge problem for me in high school. My MB asked me in a very delicate way if I was having some struggles with eating or if I hadn't been feeling well. I was so relieved to see that somebody knew I was suffering from anorexia again. Although she hadn't known that I had previously been diagnosed years earlier, she did help me to realize I was headed down the same path. I wasn't insulted by her asking, as it was clear that she only asked because she cared. Eating disorders can be really difficult to approach- for the people around those suffering AND those actually experiencing it.

No matter what you do, know that it was good of you to post about this at all. Everyone telling you to mind their own business has not been through anything of the sort and doesn't understand your intentions.

ED free said...

Not sure if the OP is still reading this thread or still seeking advice, but I just wanted to second what the last poster stated. I also worked as a nanny throughout college and I too fell back into an eating disorder (anorexia) while nannying. I can't even begin to tell you the relief that washed over me when my boss finally (very gently) brought up her concerns with me, in fact, she is a great deal of the reason I am still well today. Sometimes, it takes someone acknowledging you have a problem for you to get better, and for me, it was a huge wake up call to realize that other people weren't seeing myself the way I was . . . it was what finally made me admit to myself I truly had a problem. I would let your nanny know your concern and more importantly let her know you are there for her.

Loretta Grey said...

I totally agree with you... sometimes it takes someone else to notice we have a problem and sort of wake up... But then it's up to us to take action in that awareness..

Babyrn said...

MonkeyShines- the zoo keeper called you are late for check in.

Nanny with an eating disorder said...

I am a nanny who has also battled an eating disorder (anorexia and bulimia). Anorexia and bulimia are very serious mental disorders and it seems like this nanny needs help. It is very easy to be in denial about an eating disorder. Dieting and exercising are supposed to be healthy, right? However, when they are taken to an unhealthy extreme, they become deadly.

I've worked with my current family for 2.5 years and working for them actually has helped in recovery. A while back, I lost some weight and the mom made a comment on "how good I looked". I actually ended up telling her that I have an eating disorder and how comments on my weight do not help.

I've had people come up to me concerned about my weight loss. All it takes is one person to express their concern. Eating disorders are very secretive and it took someone to tell me, "You are anorexic..." for me to believe it was true.


I believe a person who has a eating disorder has a very serious mental problem and I would not want someone like this with my kids! Even after they got treatment! Usually eating disorders go hand in hand with other mental health issues!