Would you hire a babysitter with an eating disorder?

It's ethical dilemma time!. Loyal NeverSayDiet and Weighting Game reader Sonn is asking for help with just this question. She’s looking for someone to watch her two little girls this summer, one of whom is kindergarten-age, the other a preschooler. Sonn’s got a few applicants that she really likes, but while Googling them (don’t you just love the internet? You can actually track your babysitter on Facebook!) and checking their references, she learned that the girl she was most likely to hire was at one time anorexic and bulimic. Here’s where Sonn is struggling:

“She seems like a smart chick, and sweet and kind, and I am really sorry she struggled with an ED. It doesn't make any difference as far as hiring goes, obviously.


It poses a bit of a tricky situation when it comes to our relationship and how to navigate that, especially the first few meetings. In case you haven't noticed, I'm fat. And not just a little BBW kind of plump, I'm super-sized. So it leaves me wondering: Will my size be a trigger for her? Will just being exposed to me set her off and make her uncomfortable? For many recovering ED chicks, I am literally a walking manifestation of their deepest fears. Will that be the case for her, will she find it too difficult to be in our home because of it? Or on the flip side will she be critical, will she lash out instead? The one morning I leave breakfast dishes in the sink will she think, "A-HA! I always KNEW fat people were lazy!" and declare all her negative suppositions about obesity confirmed? Is it something that I can gently address, or is it still too sensitive a spot? Food becomes an issue, feeding the kids becomes emotionally charged.”

It’s so interesting – this was not at all the issue I thought would be at the top of Sonn’s mind (Though it certainly is valid). I thought she would be more concerned about the babysitter passing on negative body image thoughts and behaviors to her little girls – she may be recovered but what if certain comments slipped out, or the little girls catch her weighing herself or overhear her talking on the phone with a girlfriend, bitching about her muffin top or something?

The thing is (and I know this is a gross overgeneralization, but still), most women with EDs tend to be overachievers, very smart and driven, people-pleasing and detail-oriented. So I would assume this potential candidate would actually make an excellent babysitter from that perspective. (I myself actually took a babysitting course and got certified in CPR when I was a tween. Parents loved me. I loved their stocked pantries and Golden Girls reruns.)

So, what advice do you have for Sonn?

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