We've been inundated lately with books and articles about childhood obesity. Most offer cultural critique or nutrition and exercise advice in tones that are alternately appalled and patronizing. Few address the psychological, medical, cultural and developmental complexities affecting overweight kids. The truth is, many parents already know that Whoppers are fattening. What they don't know is how to effectively help an often discouraged, often reluctant kid on what will be a difficult, life-long journey.
Abby Ellin, a journalist and former fat-camper whose parents' attempts to "save her" from fatness proved counterproductive, has had a lifelong interest in figuring out how they might have done it better, and an abiding compassion for overweight kids. In Teenage Waistland she shares the story of her own adolescent struggle with food and weight, and journeys with hope, skepticism, and humor through the landscape of today's diet culture. She visits camps and community programs, and talks to experts, kids and their parents, seeking to answer these questions: What can parents say that kids will hear? Why don't kids exercise more and eat less when they're dying to be thinner? What treatment methods actually work? Willpower, or surrender? Shame, or inspiration?
Teenage Waistland is ultimately clarifying and provocative for anyone who's ever wrestled with weight issues. One size does not fit all when it comes to weight loss, and the better we understand that, the more likely we are to be able to help our kids.
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About the Author
For five years, Abby Ellin wrote the "Preludes" column, about young people and money, in the Sunday Money and Business section of the New York Times. She also regularly writes the "Vows" column in the New York Times Sunday Styles section, as well as feature assignments for the New York Times Magazine. Her work has appeared in a range of publications, including Time, the Village Voice, Marie Claire, More, Self, Glamour, the Boston Phoenix, and Spy (RIP). She's an editor-at-large for Gotham magazine and has an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. But her greatest claim to fame is naming "Karamel Sutra" ice cream for Ben and Jerry's.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Fat Kid Blues xv
Ho Hos in Paradise 1
Behavior Modification and Its Discontents 61
Mothers Against Fat Kids 86
The Myths of Willpower and Control 137
Honey, I Shrunk My Stomach! 162
Size Acceptance: Fat or Fiction? 186
Inner Fat Camp 202
Epilogue: Weighing Grandma 219
A guide to resources 223
Select bibliography 247
What People are Saying About This
"Abby Ellin has written a necessary road map for parents and their children who struggle with eating issues. She is brave enough not to pretend to have answers, but smart enough to provide meaningful insights and true stories from the frontlines."--(Betsy Lerner, author of Food and Loathing)
"Beware, Moms and Dads: this may look like a book, but it's really a mirror. Written with candor, curiosity, and compassion, Abby Ellin's Teenage Waistland reflects our own grown-up (but not always mature) issues and insecurities around body and beauty, health and happiness."--(Wendy Shanker, author of The Fat Girl's Guide to Life)
"Teenage Waistland is a must-read for doctors, families, clergy, and teachers. Its straight-forward perspective challenges our current views about weight loss, body image, and the manipulative societal pressures on our children."--(Emme, plus-size model)