“Teenage Waistland” – Book Review

I read an interesting, but ultimately horrible book, Teenage Waistland; about being a fat kid. 

There is a lot of good advice in the book about not pressuring kids and letting them make their own decisions and especially, not projecting your own feelings about weight onto your kid. 

But in the end, the author, Abby Ellin, doesn’t get it. 

Her relationship with her body and weight was (apparently irreparably) skewed by a totally fat-phobic grandmother; and while she seems to have come to terms with that experience, she does not seem to have come to terms with weight – still struggling after all these years to keep her body at a weight that she can accept.  The author spent many summers at fat camp (as a camper and as a counselor), and she gives some interesting insights into the dynamics and dysfunctions of such places.  She is also forthright about her very unhealthy relationship with food for many years; starving herself for 4 days out of 7 kept the weight off.  And while she has stopped having “no food” days, she seems to think it was, if not a “good” choice, at least a “justifiable” one. 

She acknowledges that fat acceptance is a wonderful thing – but she has decided it is a fantasy, something not attainable in the “real world”.  In other words, it is better for fat people to bow down to the prejudice of our current society, and conform – even if it means a teenager gets WLS. 

I personally feel the author does not practice self-acceptance; so how can she understand fat acceptance?  I wish she was working more on her own issues instead of writing what she purports to be a self-help book for fat kids and their parents.  The book itself engages in the very behavior that she declares to be most harmful to fat kids – projecting her own fat issues onto others.

So as a self-help book it is horrible, but again, it does give interesting insights into just how badly fat prejudice can screw up a person’s whole life.

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One thought on ““Teenage Waistland” – Book Review

  1. Wow, I’ve often wondered how this book turned out in the end, since Abby Ellin has written some HAES-sounding pieces for the NYT. Interesting to hear that it didn’t come out as positively as I might’ve expected.

    There is a really good book out about “childhood obesity” that’s called Your Child’s Weight – Helping Without Harming that truly does have a size acceptance message.

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