Friday, January 23, 2009

Win a copy of FEED ME!

UPDATE: We've got 149 entries. Woo-hoo! I'll be giving away 2 copies of the book!

Yep, I'm giving away a copy of Feed Me!: Writers Dish About Food, Eating, Weight, and Body Image, which I edited and which contains fabulous essays by writers like Caroline Leavitt, Joyce Maynard, Diana Abu-Jaber, Amity Gaige, Jenny Allen, Kate Harding, and many more. All you have to do to enter the drawing is send me your name and e-mail address before 1 p.m. on Monday, January 26. I will pick one lucky winner then.

To find out more about the book, click here and here. To read a digital galley of the intro and three essays, click here.

Good luck!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Why we need to change our attitudes

When my older daughter was ill with anorexia, she went through hell. The rest of the family did too--not the same kind of hell, surely, because after all, we could escape it for an hour or two while she could not. My younger daughter marched through hell along with us. She heard and saw anorexia with all its claws and teeth and terror, and like my husband and me, she came to loathe it.

We've talked quite a bit, she and I, in the years since, about eating disorders, about body image and weight. I've tried to model Health at Every Size for both my daughters. And yet my beautiful, lively, talented younger daughter, Lulu, is convinced that she's fat, and is upset about it.

I've tried reasoning with her: You're not fat; you're going through puberty. Your body needs a little extra flesh on it right now. And even if you were fat, so what? Fat is a descriptive word. We all have fat on our bodies.

And so on. I can practically see my words passing through her like ghosts sailing through a solid wall, making no mark and having no effect. Why should they, when we both know just how viciously society punishes those of us whose bodies are not naturally stick-thin. When the rest of the 8th-grade girls have straight hair and long, lean torsos, and my daughter has hair with a lot of wave and a naturally rounder shape.

The experiences of her sister's illness are now four years behind us. I'm glad they're fading for all of us. But I wish some of what we all saw and learned then could help my younger daughter now. I wish she could remember that there are a lot worse things than being round, that conformity comes with a terrible price, that food is nurturing and sustaining rather than the enemy.

She eats the same way she always has; you better believe I'm watching that closely. I worry, with dread in my heart, when what she thinks is going to inspire her to go on a diet for the first time, and whether she, too, will become anorexic. I worry and I watch and I wait. I wait for the day when I can say to her, "You're beautiful just the way you are," and she will believe it.

I hope I live long enough to see that day.

Change Is Good

Yes indeed.

But in the midst of such happy change, please remember to take a few deep breaths and practice loving what is. Because unlike our outgoing president, you are worthy of love and compassion, right now, as you are.

Monday, January 19, 2009

I want your ideas

Syracuse University, where I teach, has a program called Healthy Mondays. I know, I know; it's a bit silly, really, but the folks who organize Healthy Mondays mean well and may indeed do some good.

Now they're looking for ideas from faculty and students for small projects, and they're giving out small grants to help make those projects reality. I'd like to propose something about eating disorders. My first thought is to suggest a kind of "voices of eating disorders" oral history project, kind of like National Public Radio's wonderful Storycorps project.

I'd love to have your ideas. What, if anything, do you think is worth doing on a college campus?