Happier, Healthier Teen Girls: A Review of Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession is Screwing Up Our Girls and What We Can Do to Help them Thrive Despite it
By Trish Deitemyer
I was already in the middle of a book when my copy of “Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession is Screwing Up Our Girls and What We Can Do to Help them Thrive Despite it” (Harlequin Nonfiction; October 2010; $16.95 US/$19.95 CAN) by Robyn J. A. Silverman, Ph.D., arrived in the mail, so my sixteen year old daughter, Lizzie, snagged it. Within a couple of days, whenever she had down time, her nose was buried in the book and it quickly became decorated with neon colored stickies, pointing out details that she wanted to remember or to tell me.
Dr. Silverman, a leading expert in child and adolescent development specializing in the issues facing young women, believes there is an epidemic of low body esteem among American girls aged nine to fourteen. She sees countless girls in her practice who have only minor weight problems (or sometimes none at all) convincing themselves that they are fat and beginning, at a very early age, “the endless cycle of low self-esteem, eating disorders, extreme dieting, over-exercising and unnecessary plastic surgery.”“Anorexia and Bulimia are gross!” Lizzie yelled at one point while she was reading. “One girl only ate ice cubes with salt on them to lose weight!”
Dr. Silverman’s book abounds with frightening tales of girls not only being bad to themselves, but parents, teachers and other adults making what they think are inconsequential comments about their girls’ body. Girls will internalize these remarks and remember them for years and years, crumbling whatever sense of self they had.
The book abounds with helpful information such as the list “14 signs that your daughter may have an eating disorder”, plus many resources, with lists of stores that sell cool, plus-sized clothes, positive websites, movies that celebrate all kinds of women, just to name a few.
“Good Girls Don’t Get Fat…” is very current, referring to “Glee”, Facebook, “America’s Next Top Model”, and the dreaded Formspring.me, which takes cyberbullying to new lows. On Formspring, which is similar to Facebook and Twitter, account holders (and getting an account is easy and free) can say whatever they like about each other with no fear of being found out; it’s entirely anonymous. “Many teens confess to saying things on Formspring that they would never say in person- making it the newest, and perhaps most effective, delivery system for cruel covert communication and body bashing among classmates.”According to Lizzie, she and her friends opened accounts on Formspring when it first started, but once they realized that it was mostly a vehicle for being mean, they stopped using it.Throughout the book, Dr. Silverman encourages and teaches girls to “embrace who they are, inside and out.” Written in eye liner on my daughter’s mirror are the words, “This is what gorgeous looks like!” which she took from “Good Girls…” I felt so proud of her, and when I commented on it, she told me that she and her locker-mate take turns taping up encouraging quotes to each other, like “Beauty is power; a smile is its sword.” When her friends put themselves down, she doesn’t join in with her own self-abuse; she just tells them to stop.
“Good Girls Don’t Get Fat” is a must-read if you have, or care about, an adolescent girl. And bonus points if your teen reads it, too. I promise you will be amazed and outraged by some of what you read, but its lessons on self-esteem and body image are vital. Dr. Silverman will spark some revealing, maybe even life-changing, conversations with your daughter.(Check out Dr. Robyn Silverman’s website for lots more info and videos from the book.) ###
One winner will receive the book “Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession is Screwing Up Our Girls and What We Can Do to Help them Thrive Despite it” ($16.95 Value)
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