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Preventing Eating Disorders among Pre-Teen Girls: A Step-by-Step Guide

Overview

A must for parents, teachers and counselors, this book targets preadolescent girls aiming to engage them in educational activites that will empower them to avoid eating disorders. The author examines eating disorders from sociocultural and feminist perspectives showing how disorders are most often caused by overexposure to media messages, an unrealistic cultural fascination with thinness, by continuous anaylsis of our bodies and a disordered cultural view of food. Then Menassa presents a 10-session guide to ...

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Overview

A must for parents, teachers and counselors, this book targets preadolescent girls aiming to engage them in educational activites that will empower them to avoid eating disorders. The author examines eating disorders from sociocultural and feminist perspectives showing how disorders are most often caused by overexposure to media messages, an unrealistic cultural fascination with thinness, by continuous anaylsis of our bodies and a disordered cultural view of food. Then Menassa presents a 10-session guide to prevention that engages girls in activities to spur and empower their independent thinking and reasoning. For example, girls become watchdogs of the media and write to companies that present women in a negative light in their advertisements. The girls challenge ingrained beliefs and replace them with healthier ones.

Preadolescence is a time when girls' minds are malleable and they are willing to challenge established activities, such as media presentations. Once girls hit puberty, many will have already developed disordered eating behaviors; many will have been on several diets; therefore, beginning the work to decode and combat harmful messages before that stage is crucial.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA
Mental health counselor Menassa is concerned with fading media interest in eating disorders, something she attributes to the fact that "young women with anorexia do not look much different from our favorite actors and models, so the shock value has lost its shock." This book is her effort to preempt the "difficult, painstaking, and intense" treatment for eating disorders whose "result can lead to health, or if unsuccessful, death." Following a literature review on the etiology of eating disorders and a summary of risk factors, the book presents "Body Armor," a prevention program for young girls ages nine to twelve. Because "discussing behaviors of bulimia may inadvertently teach girls how to lose weight in unhealthy ways," the program focuses on concrete cognitions: "how to cope with stress, choose healthy food, cope with teasing, resist media messages, become a watchdog against media messages that portray women negatively." The program integrates aspects from several models, focusing on empowering young girls to "create themselves and change their environments" and features use of Internet activities in hopes that girls will continue to access the sites after the program concludes, aiming at long-term attitudinal and behavioral changes. The Body Armor program consists of ten ninety-minute sessions, each carefully detailed, including Focus, Objectives, Behavioral Outcomes, Activities, and Processing Questions. Although each session's plan is comprehensively presented, Menassa stresses the need for involving an expert, such as a school counselor. Guidelines are provided for computer-assisted interventions, parental involvement, selection of group members, training the co-facilitators (incase parents are chosen for this role), and evaluation methods. A section on ethical and multicultural issues examines ethical concerns but does not actually address potential multicultural issues. This last criticism aside, the book offers a useful framework for a targeted prevention program. Many activities in the Body Armor program parallel therapy activities described in Natalie Friend's novel Perfect (Milkweed Editions, 2004; see VOYA review in this issue), in which thirteen-year-old Isabelle must attend "Eating Disorder and Body Image Therapy Group." Although the book might seem to be a natural companion to the prevention program, using it as such would run the aforementioned risk of inadvertently teaching girls how to lose weight in unhealthy ways while not sufficiently illustrating the harmful effects of bulimia. 2004, Praeger, 113p.; Index. Biblio., Ages adult professional.
—Kim Carter
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780865693326
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/28/2004
  • Pages: 136
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

BEVERLY MENASSA holds a degree in mental health counseling and is a LPCI at North Central Texas College.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Literature review 1
Ch. 2 Rationale for risk factors 17
Ch. 3 Overview of the body armor program 25
Ch. 4 Sessions 39
App Taking a closer look 71
App Having a voice 77
App Scales are for fish 79
App Coping with stress 81
App Body image 87
App Putting it all together 89
App The more you know 93
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