Monday, January 07, 2008

Body image/sexuality 101--for teens

Here at Feed Me!, I get a lot of books sent to me by publishers and authors who want some blogosphere buzz. I write only about the ones that really move me--negatively or otherwise--because life's just too short to bother with the rest.

Body Drama by Nancy Amanda Redd is the most recent submission that's come my way, and I thought it would be perfect to try out on my two teenage daughters. They're a tough audience, as most teens are these days, quick to spot the phony tone and the overly chirpy (and uninformative) information. This book is, as it trumpets, designed for "Real girls, real bodies, real issues, real answers," and its cover features tasteful images of 5 teenage girls in their underwear, along with the tagline "Shape * Skin * Down there * Boobs * Hair & Nails."

I like the book a lot, for its joyful photos of bodies of all shapes and sizes, for its common-sense, practical advice, and for its willingness to take on some tough questions and provide elegant, useful answers. One of my favorite pages shows photographs of 24 different vulvas of all shapes and sizes. "When I study the different vulvas, I see elements of my own here and there, and realize that no one's exactly the same" writes Redd, a former Miss America contestant and Harvard grad. "I also have been able to release a lot of the embarrassment I always carried around about my own vag. I hope that these pages will do the same for you."

But what would my daughters think?

I brought the book down to the living room one afternoon and put it on a table. Within 10 minutes both girls had picked it up--a promising beginning. The 16-year-old dismissed it by saying, "I know all that already." But I noticed she kept going back to it, picking it up, paging through it. The younger one didn't want to pick it up, so I wound up asking her to take a look. She read it cover to cover and told me later, "That book was pretty good."

Bottom line: If you've got teenage or preteen daughters, you might want to buy this book and leave it lying around. At the very least they'll see that not everyone looks like Paris Hilton (thank God).

1 comment:

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