I finally finished reading Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters this summer. I bought it a few years back and read it halfway, but eventually I got really busy with school work and didn’t have the time to finish reading it. I picked it up in December again and decided to start reading it from the beginning. I got busy with student teaching though and once again wasn’t able to finish it.Started reading it this summer and finished it during my trip to Mexico. It was an awesome read. If I wasn’t so broke I would buy a copy of it for all of my girl friends.
The book is about eating disorders, body insecurities, and self-esteem issues and the pressures women have around beauty and thinness. It is also a compilation of stories from women who have suffered from anorexia, bulimia, and disordered eating. The book takes a swipe at our society’s unhealthy obsession with appearances, and absolutely had me cheering at times. I’ll give you an example.
The author shames diet companies and cosmetic companies for continuously supporting unhealthy obsessions with beauty and for defining what beauty is. I see it this way too. Every time I see a commercial for diet supplements or some weight loss program I end up arguing with the T.V. They don’t work and they mislead people into thinking they can have the “sexy body” they see on TV. Why not focus on having a healthy body weight? And being honest with people. The best way to lose weight (and keep it off) is by eating healthy and exercising. Cosmetic companies also set crazy standards for women to meet. In 2004, women spent 12.4 billion dollars on cosmetics. BILLION! I don’t wear makeup. With the exception of lip gloss (if that really counts as a cosmetic) and the occasional mascara and glitter for when I’m feeling fun. Other than that, I refuse to contribute to an industry that is so unkind to women. No I won’t put some strange cream on my face or load my face with makeup to cover my beauty marks. I embrace them. I love them. They are a part of me. No I will not spend a ridiculous amount of money trying to hide the bags under my eyes. Know why? Because it’s my body telling me that I need to get some rest. It’s my body telling the world that, “hey, I stayed up late last night getting kickass lesson plans finished for my kids and then woke up really early to get to school and try to make a difference in the world.” There’s no shame in it. It’s a friendly reminder from my body that I need to get some rest.
We need to listen to our bodies. Which is something the book reminded to do. Sometimes when my legs would hurt, and I didn’t feel like working out, I forced myself to do it. Thinking I was weak and lazy if I didn’t. I’m not. My legs hurt for a reason. My body needed a break. It needed some rest. I didn’t work out again today. But it’s ok. I didn’t feel like it again. Maybe I’ll go for a walk tomorrow morning. Or maybe I’ll sleep in. I’ll do what my body asks. If it’s hungry I’ll feed it. When it’s full I’ll stop. I won’t refuse my body what it asks for. Without sounding too mushy and self-help booky: I love me. I love my body. I refuse to spend my energy constantly worrying about calories or being scared that I’ll gain weight when it could be spent fighting social injustices. I’m smart. I can make the world a kinder place.
I was lucky enough to meet the author of the book and have her sign my copy for me. I’ll leave you with her words.
"Sonia, may you always know the true beauty of you own nature."
I promise I will and will help people see theirs.