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Monday, July 27, 2009


Hey there everyone!

I hope you had a good weekend and enjoyed our spotlight on YA author Sara Zarr and Gracen's review of Carnal Cravings by Keta Diablo.

Because I appreciate authors who say yes when I invite them to blog with us, I try to read everything they write, or at least as much as I can get my hands on from the library. I try not to buy books because, well, the idea here is to get others to buy them after they've been here. Plus, I am a horrid pack rat and refuse to get rid of books. I love books and I keep everyone I've ever bought (including textbooks) because, I have learned that they'll always come in handy from time to time either as a reread for enjoyment or as a reference. Since I would soon run out of room if I purchased YA books before I knew if I liked the author's voice or not, I rent from the library whenever possible. As I find a YA author not on their list, I plan on trying to change that.

This weekend, I read a couple of entries from the anthology Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?. I haven't posted my review on Shelfari yet because I haven't finished it. I kind of want to read all of the entries if I can.

However, I think that this book is definitely good for all YA to read and can become a good discussion point between parents and children. The essays in this book are a multi-faceted teaching tool. It explains to adults (mostly parents, but not always) how they can, without intending to do so, effect the eating habits of their children. Don't be fooled, eating habits have less to do with knowing what makes a good, well-balanced meal than they do with environment, self-esteem and tastes.

For example, how many of you remember those cartoon ads that said, Don't Drown Your Food in mayo, ketchup or goo? Well, I do, but it hasn't made much difference in how I eat my food. As much as I like the taste of a potato, if I want sour cream on it, I'll put sour cream on it. If I want to taste the butter on my potatoes, I'll add a bit more than usual. As for my eggs, I like cheese on them [yeah, yeah, I know big shocker with me being from Wisconsin and all].

And, if you read some of the parent magazines, they can suggest mixing peas with honey because it's sweet and sticky and it can be "fun" for kids to try to see how many peas they can get stuck on the spoon or knife. There are other similar suggestions like this such as covering broccoli with cheese. Why? Because kids naturally do not like the taste of vegetables, especially when they know what junk food tastes like. Plus, when you eat the same foods regularly (I have way too many food allergies to try new foods and shellfish can kill me as far as I've been told), you need variety to make it different, so you add things to change the flavor and texture. Some people load their food with spices, some with ketchup, some with gravies and some with dairy products. But to what extent, all depends upon the individual eating the food. So, if they learn to eat their vegetables this way, chances are, they will do this as they get older.

So, that leaves self-esteem and environment. Well, if a person can feel good about themselves, they can be comfortable with their bodies, it kind of goes hand-in-hand. If a person feels bad about themselves, chances are they won't feel good about their bodies.

As you can probably figure out, the environment a child lives in shapes a child's self esteem and how he/she sees food. If you use ice cream or some other sweet treat to comfort a troubled (upset, hurt, etc.) child, as Pavlov's dog learned to salivate to a bell, so will a child learn to eat when depressed. Same goes if that child sees a parent eating when depressed or upset, that's what they'll do. Of course, if you teach a child to treat food like an enemy (in other words, teach them to equate "thin" with "pretty"), that can make them accept or develop eating disorders more readily.

Sounds reasonable, doesn't it? Sure, it seems like common sense that everyone should know. But, we all do it, destroy a child's self-esteem, again and again without thinking about it. We do it as children when we innocently describe someone as fat because we don't know any other way to describe them when someone doesn't recognize them by name and other factors such as hair color or style or the presence of eyeglasses won't help. We do it as adults by hooting and hollering for too-thin women or overly muscled men. We do it as parents when we demonstrate/reinforce poor eating habits, make snide comments about out of shape or imperfect people, making direct comments about they way a child looks, or constantly subject them to the media's idea of what makes a "fabulous" body. We do it as grandparents when we try to counteract those effects. We are surrounded by the potential to develop poor eating habits.

So, how do you, as a parent or grandparent, combat these issues and reduce the risk of an eating disorder?
1. Demonstrate good eating habits by eating properly yourself
2. Do not use food to make someone "feel better"
3. Encourage good exercise habits as well as serving size limits
4. Show your children the images of the best looking women of the past - you'll learn something interesting.

How so?

Well, when you look at the beauties of old, you see that even though they were thin later on, when they started, they looked like the rest of us, curvy.

Norma Jean Baker's (bust-waist-hips) measurements fluctuated all her life and on different sites will be stated anywhere between 36-24-34 to 38-23-36. [I know, when she died, she was 5'7" and 117 pounds and had size 7 shoe, but you get the point, she wasn't perfect, not by a long shot, but confidence made her sexy.]

Rita Hayworth's measurements (during the war years): 36.5-C-24-36 and she was 5'6" and 120lb with a size 5.5 shoe. One of the biggest sex symbols of all time.

They were curvy, and if you looked at them right, you could see that their stomachs, while small, were not flat.

While thin, they were not flat, but curvy. If interested, check out some current actresses measurements. But Kate Winslet [check out this article] has to be the best example because she makes a 29 inch waist sexy.

But that's not the only thing to do. Do your research and be sure to point out that most of these so-called "perfect" sex symbols were not happy.

Someone posted a similar question to Yahoo! answers (UK and Ireland). Check it out because the general consensus is that what makes a person beautiful comes from inside. If you are happy with your self and smile from within, the beauty radiates from the inside out, but they make equally good points that being really heavy is not good for your health.

What does all of this have to do with Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?. Well, the book can be used to help teach people the effect their words can have on other people and how important it is to learn to accept people for who they are not what they look like. It can be a tool to help children with similar issues learn that they are not alone in how they feel and offer tools that can help them to start changing things for the betterment of themselves and do it the right way.

What about you? Do you have any similar stories to tell?


4 Moonbeams (comments):

Molly Daniels said...

Carrie: What can I say? I read your blog around 10 am every morning!

No particular comment today; just wanted to tease you about your comment from yesterday:)

Although, you're right. Adults don't realize their actions/words do influence kids:)

Molly Daniels said... soon as I hit 'post', a comment popped into my head.

Mom used to put sugar in our corn; I learned to looooove brocolli with cheese sauce, and she also taught me it is perfectly acceptable to get a candy bar at the check-out line. I was fortunate that my metabolism was high...I didn't achieve 100 lbs until jr high, unlike my teens who hit that number in the 4th grade (they take after their dad's side)

While I still okay the candy bars (we all get one, hee hee!), I'm making sure my youngest stays active and I have a tendancy to leave him at home with the teens when I go to the store (and eat my lone candy bar on the way home). Maybe I'll get lucky to have one child with my metabolism/body type?

I also credit the reason my sis and I were so skinny: We didn't spend a lot of time in front of the TV, or have access to video games or computer (not invented yet). We had to use our imaginations and play outside. Some of the antics we pulled would have today's parents worried about child molesters or kidnapping, as we disappeared out the door at noon and returned at dinnertime! (Safe neighborhood, out in the country, not in town!)

Carrie said...

Haha Molly, you crack me up!

I had the same thing. We did have Atari, but that came much later. Even then I was still active. But, I was bigger boned than my sister and built bigger, by nature.

How can I be sure? Well, when I was in 7th grade I think it was, I couldn't fit into gym clothes my sister wore in high school (size small to x-small - she was about 2-3" taller than me and lankier). When I started school, I wore a medium to large I think.

See, my weight was always evenly distributed about my body. I weighed about 120lbs when I was twenty and started college, but was still in a size 6 and I never really felt all that healthy.

By nature, my sister had smaller hips, even now. (I can't wear women's jeans for that reason. I always get men's jeans because they fit my hips better.)

Even at my best weight as a teen (which was about 120lbs for my height of about 5'3"), I never felt good. Then, later in my twenties, I worked as a stocker which made me buff. While I fit in a size 8 and weighed 140lbs, I looked good and felt great.

Now that I am focused on overcoming the pain, I want to get into similar shape again, but it will be hard.

Here's why I think it's important for girls and boys to fully understand how body functions and the foods we eat can effect the body:

My body doesn't like my thyroid and destroys it. This under-active nature of my thyroid makes it easy to gain, but almost impossible to lose weight. I have to have a very low sodium diet (at least as low as I can) because sodium makes me balloon up. I suspect that's always been the case, but it's not like anyone thinks about a person's thyroid until they get older.

If I had not have ignored the issue for so long, my problem now might not be so bad. Oh, and it would have helped if my back muscles didn't give out on me twice in the last 6 years and my body wasn't wracked with pain (which is how I got this big in the first place).

Molly, I wouldn't be surprised if you found out that you have an overactive thyroid.... nothing wrong with it though...unless it's too overactive.


Sheila Deeth said...

Okay, I'll skip the chocolate and grab a cold drink instead. Sounds like living with boys is much easier than living with girls.