Friday, February 12, 2016

A Q&A with Author Mona Awad {+ Giveaway}



I’m delighted to share with you that Penguin Books is proud to release one of its most exciting Originals of the year, introducing the literary world to the sharp, superb voice of Mona Awad with her debut book, 13 WAYS OF LOOKING AT A FAT GIRL.

Penguin has graciously provided a question and answer session with the author, along with a book club kit of information for your reading pleasure. Thanks to Cat and the wonderful folks at Penguin Books, I also have one print copy of 13 WAYS OF LOOKING AT A FAT GIRL to giveaway as part of the celebration for this upcoming release.

Mona makes her darkly funny, sharply emotional, and superbly written fiction debut with 13 WAYS OF LOOKING AT A FAT GIRL (Penguin Books Original; On-Sale: February 23, 2016; 9780143128489; $16), the story of one woman’s journey from fat adolescence to an ex-fat adulthood, as she seeks love and acceptance from everyone except herself. Readers of Lorrie Moore, Jennifer Egan, Roxane Gay, and Lena Dunham will devour this Penguin Books Original, which skewers our body image-obsessed culture while simultaneously delivering a tender, sympathetic portrait of a difficult but unforgettable woman whose lifelong struggle to lose weight comes at a high cost.

As an overweight teenager growing up in the suburbs, Lizzie has never liked the way she looks, even though her best friend Mel says she’s the pretty one. She dates men online, but is too insecure to send them pictures, convinced that no one would want her if they could really see her. After high school, with punishing drive, she begins to shed the weight, counting each almond consumed, each mile logged, each pound dropped, until she can finally fit into the dresses she could never wear growing up. Now thin, she continues to navigate her complicated relationships with her mother, her friends, her husband, and her reflection in the mirror, but their validation isn’t enough. When she looks in the mirror, will she ever see anything but a fat girl?

While 13 WAYS explores specific issues around women and body issues, it also speaks to the universal coming-of-age experience, from the brutal angst of adolescence to the struggle for self-acceptance and fulfillment. Caustic, hilarious, and heartbreaking, 13 WAYS introduces Mona as a major literary talent.

This book is full of incredible insight into the life of someone dealing with body image issues. What inspired you to explore this subject?

Mona:
Body image is something I’ve struggled with throughout my life. I was a slim child, but then I got chubby as a prepubescent. I lost weight, then got fat as a teenager and then lost weight again in my early twenties. Throughout my twenties it was something I wanted to explore in my writing and I was always taking notes to that end, even as I wrote fiction and poetry on other subjects. When I was twenty-two, I wrote a poem called “Zoology” about not being able to find a plain black cardigan in a plus size store, but underneath, it was really about how marginalizing the experience of being fat was. It felt very good to write, but it was more of a rant than a poem, so it was ultimately not very satisfying—there was so much more I wanted to say. A few years later, after I’d lost weight and was working as a journalist, I wrote a feature article about my and my mother’s experiences with dieting trends in the 80s and 90s, but this didn’t feel like enough either. I didn’t want to explore the subject of weight on a cultural level or even on a strictly autobiographical level—I wanted to do it on a far more creative, intimate level. I was much more interested in this level of experience—how body image can affect your relationships to people, clothing, the way you are in the world. For that I needed the freedom to imagine, to draw out social dynamics and fully explore moments of rage, vulnerability and desire I had experienced both as a fat person and as a thin one. I needed characters that were separate from me and had their own stories—I craved the freedom of fiction.

What was the genesis of 13 WAYS? And can you describe your writing process?

Mona:
Most of the stories were inspired by a point of tension that I had observed, experienced or imagined—being in a fitting room with a dress that doesn’t fit, for example. I would take that point of tension and I would sit with it, trying to describe it in as much intimate, immediate and honest detail as possible. I would scrutinize it, draw it out, let myself imagine around it. By exploring a moment of tension like this, it would acquire more layers and consequence, and a story would often emerge. Once I had the contours of story, I could push that tension further still—in some cases, to its limits.

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl is a provocative title. How did you choose it?

Mona:
The title was inspired by the Wallace Stevens poem, “13 Ways of Looking at a Black Bird,” though really only superficially. What I liked was the idea of using different ways of seeing as a way into the life of one character. In my experience, perception is a huge part of body image. I thought I looked fat before I was fat and, in some ways, that made me get fat. I also continued to see myself as someone who was fat after I got thin.  So the idea of looking, for me, is really the most transformative, damaging and powerful driving force in the book. Being fat is also both a highly visible and invisible experience—visible because of the extra flesh and invisible because of the ways that flesh can eclipse you as a person, both in terms of how people see you and how you see yourself—so the title felt connected to that paradox of being both seen and unseen in various ways. It let me organize the overall story around the many ways in which Lizzie might be seen or imagine she is seen by various people in her life: sales women, friends, parents, romantic partners, flings, as well as how she might see herself in these relationships—ways of seeing that she resented, ways of seeing that were simplifications, or generalizations. Take “Your Biggest Fan,” for example. I would take each way of seeing—how Lizzie is seen by the other character, and how she sees him—and then, in the course of the story, try to unsettle and complicate it.

The novel is told in a series of short stories, or vignettes. What made you choose this structure?

Mona:
So much of Lizzie’s story is bound up in how she views herself and the various ways she imagines others see her. So I wanted to approach telling her story as a series of glimpses--how she changes in relation to that shifting gaze, real or imagined—and I wanted the structure of the book to reflect that. Each way of looking seemed to be its own story that was connected to but also separate from the whole—another piece of a mirror (however warped) into which Lizzie is looking.

The fairy tale promise of dieting and exercise is that your life will change for the better if you lose weight. But contrary to what we’re told by every women’s magazine and on shows like The Biggest Loser, Lizzie seems as unhappy in her new body as she was before—or maybe more so. Why doesn’t her transformation result in a happy ending?

Mona:
Transformation is a tricky thing. The idea that when we transform our bodies, we start off in one place and end up in another, is part of a notion about weight loss that this book is definitely trying to explore and challenge. My own experience of transformation was messy and complicated. Even after I got thin, I still felt like my weight was highly visible to anyone who bothered to look. In the way I behaved with others. In the way I ordered salad. Not in the fact that I ordered salad, but in the way I did—like it was penance, not a choice. In the way I wore my clothes—I wore them like they had been hard won, and they were. I felt too, that underneath those clothes, the visible evidence of having been fat was there. This is the case for Lizzie, too. She still has to reckon with her flesh, even its ghost, and so does everyone else around her. Her body, changed or unchanged, is still bound up in how she sees herself. That doesn’t necessarily go when the weight does. In Lizzie’s case, she’s still cognizant of her fat and so it’s still informing the way she is in the world, her relationships—and not necessarily for the better. In fact, in some ways it’s more complicated, because the weight is no longer visible, and so it’s harder for others to understand her.

It seems that our society has made fat-shaming the last acceptable form of prejudice, with the underlying belief that being fat is a “choice”—and not the right one.   Did you think about this at all while you were writing?

Mona:
It still seems culturally okay to make fun of fat people. When I was fat, I avoided going into elevators with people because I was afraid they would make fun of me after I left. In the book, I wanted to focus on depicting Lizzie and my other characters as honestly and with as much care as I could. I wanted to humanize and complicate portraits of people that are often seen as objects of ridicule. And, of course, it’s very telling that after Lizzie loses weight, she is at times guilty of seeing fat people this way herself.

Lizzie forges a connection to her best friend as well as her future husband through music—specifically Goth industrial, a genre that we can safely say doesn’t get much air time in literature. Why did you connect Lizzie with this music, and what is its appeal for her?

Mona:
There’s a lot of music in the book—it’s definitely important to Lizzie throughout her life as a form of self-expression and self-discovery, and as a way to connect with other people. Certainly music provided that for me. Goth is seen as marginal and underground, and Lizzie, in seeing herself the way she does, identifies with that to some extent. But ultimately I think Goth is more of a phase she goes through in part because of her friendship with Mel—this music is an important part of their bond as teens, but their relationship to it and to each other shifts over the years.

Lizzie’s relationships with other women are often quite barbed, especially when it comes to things like eating, exercise, and shopping—all of which come back, of course, to the body. What does 13 Ways have to say about female friendship?

Mona:
Female friendship is a subject that has always interested me as a writer. I love paying close attention to what goes on subtextually between women—things that we are not fully conscious of, that pass between us quickly. It goes without saying, perhaps, that body image can complicate these relationships and even come between women. After I lost weight, I definitely noticed a shift in the dynamics of some of my friendships. This is not to say that those friendships are any less valuable—I love and cherish all my female friends more than I can say. But I do think that female friendships can be idealized (or over-simplified in the other direction—as a caricature of petty, “mean girl” competition) and I wanted to explore what might else be going on under the surface. Writing this book gave me a chance to amplify and explore tensions and dynamics that fascinated me in my own experiences and in my observations of female relationships. For Lizzie, of course, all of her friendships and encounters with women are complicated by her own issues. But she’s definitely not alone in the creation of that weirdness.

Clothing plays a meaningful role in this book, and Lizzie endures some very fraught situations in fitting rooms. Why did you feel this situation was important to represent in the book?

Mona:
Fitting rooms can be places of existential dread for people of any size. When you’re locked in an enclosed place with nothing but an item of clothing and a mirror, you have to reckon with yourself in a way that you don’t elsewhere. It can be a de-familiarizing, humiliating, excruciating experience. I guess because there’s also a yearning there, a desire for transformation, possibility, that fitting rooms offer too. When I was fat, I was angry and humiliated that I couldn’t find a decent dress and still I hoped. When I was thin, I was angry and humiliated that I still struggled to find things that fit me and yet I still hoped. I yearned to fit in. It’s that cocktail of hope and necessity that can make the fitting room experience so excruciating and revelatory, whether you’re in there with just an item to clothe your body, or something that symbolizes your dream self. Lizzie revisits the fitting room because, as much as she rages against it, she is very much a victim of that hope.

What do you hope readers will take away from 13 Ways?

Mona:
Above all, a feeling of connection to the stories and the people in them. Fiction and especially short stories have always been extremely important to me.  The books I love; I take to as one would take to a new friend. They have something very personal and urgent to tell me. They give voice to thoughts and feelings and desires and fears that I didn’t know I had. My favorite stories have always been the ones that feel very intimate, like the writer really gave something vital in themselves to the telling of the story. A little of the soul. I wrote these stories and these characters with as much honesty as I could in the hopes of making this book that kind of offering to the reader. I also wrote it, ultimately, to create a story that I would want to read. I can only hope readers will feel the same. 

Are there any books or authors that influenced your writing? What are you reading right now?

Mona:
Author Mona Awad
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis really made an impression on me, though I can’t say that I was consciously aware of it as an influence when I was working on the book. I think it’s a brilliant, very disturbing and complicated portrait of a monster, who is at the same time a product of his culture and his age. Certainly Lizzie is no Patrick Bateman, but I do think I was interested in exploring a kind of monstrousness, a psychosis that our body image-obsessed culture can bring out in us. Another favorite is The Remains of The Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. Not only is it a wonderful story with an incredibly rich and nuanced first person voice, but I love the way Ishiguro can create a narrator who is so blind to certain truths inside himself, truths that are available to the reader to recognize, but that the narrator cannot access due to his own psychological and emotional blind spots. Mary Gaitskill’s complex characterizations and her interest in tension have always been endless sources of inspiration. I’m also huge fan of humor in fiction, especially with a dark or melancholy edge, so I love writers like Lorrie Moore, Dorothy Parker and Stacey Richter. Right now, I’m writing a novel and preparing to teach creative writing to undergraduates so I’m not reading anything too consistently, despite the tower of books on my bedside table. Though I did just order Where Did You Sleep Last Night by Lynn Crosbie, a great Canadian writer and poet. It’s a novel about a girl who’s in a relationship with the dead spirit of Kurt Cobain, so I’ll probably devour that pretty quickly.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mona Awad received her MFA in Fiction from Brown University. Her work has appeared in McSweeney’s, The Walrus, Joyland, Post Road, St. Petersburg Review, and elsewhere.

She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Creative Writing and English literature at the University of Denver. For more on Mona and her writing, connect with her on Goodreads and Twitter.

BOOK CLUB KIT INFORMATION: 

COCKTAILS … 

The von Furstenberg 

If we can’t pull off the wrap dress, at least we can pull off one of DVF’s favorite cocktails. 

Tequila, Lime and Jalapeño Cocktail 
1 shot of ice cold tequila 
1 teaspoon of freshly squeezed lime juice 
1 teaspoon of agave nectar 
1 tablespoon of roughly chopped cilantro 
A couple of slices of jalapeño chili 
1 cup of good quality sparkling wine 

Mix the tequila, lime juice, agave nectar, chili, and cilantro in a glass and stir vigorously. If you have a cocktail shaker, shake with some ice and pour into a glass. Then add the sparkling wine. 

My Mother’s Idea of a French 75 

Everyone needs a little liquid strength for a visit with Mom 

2 oz. Champagne 
½ oz. lemon juice 
1 oz. gin 
2 dashes simple syrup 

Combine gin, syrup, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into an iced champagne glass. Top up with Champagne. Stir gently. Garnish with lemon peel. 

Caribbean Therapy 

Liz’s guilty pleasure is the Caribbean Hand Treatment; ours is this cocktail! 

Caribbean Rum Punch (makes 2) 

½ oz. lime juice 
4 oz. orange juice 
4 oz. pineapple juice 
1 ½ oz. dark rum 
1 ½ oz. light rum 
A dash of grenadine for color 

 Mix ingredients together, pour over ice, sprinkle with nutmeg and garnish with an orange slice and a cherry. 

PLAYLISTS CURATED BY THE AUTHOR:

Velvet Morning: Lizzie’s Playlist 

Some Velvet Morning, Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra 
Let Love In, Nick Cave 
World in My Eyes, Depeche Mode 
I Live My Broken Dreams, Daniel Johnston 
Famous Blue Raincoat, Leonard Cohen Precious Things, Tori Amos 
Moonage Daydream, David Bowie 
Everyday is Like Sunday, Morrissey Joey, Concrete Blonde 
The Passenger, Siousxie and The Banshees cover 
Candy, Iggy Pop and Kate Piersen 
Your Silent Face, New Order 
The Mystic’s Dream, Loreena McKennit Sanvean (I am Your Shadow), Lisa Gerrard 
Vervain, Faith and the Muse 
Peepshow, Miranda Sex Garden 
I Can See Now-American Dreaming, Dead Can Dance 
Song of the Siren, This Mortal Coil 
Is That All There Is, Peggy Lee 
Strict Machine, Goldfrapp 

Freya’s Fire: Mel’s Playlist 

Memento Mori, Rhea’s Obsession 
Bella Donna, The Legendary Pink Dots Garden of Delight, The Mission UK 
Moonchild, Fields of the Nephilim 
Black Celebration, Depeche Mode 
The Scarlet Thing in You, Peter Murphy Suedehead, Morrissey 
Sensual World, Kate Bush 
Sparks, Faith and the Muse 
Love’s Labors Lost, Love Spirals Downwards 
The Host of Seraphim, Dead Can Dance Motherland, Single Gun Theory 
Birds of Passage, Bel Canto 
Sunshine, Miranda Sex Garden 
Playing with the Fire, Ordo Equitum Solis Orbit, Changelings 
Drifting, Lycia 
You, Radiohead 

RECOMMENDED VIEWING/READING CURATED BY THE AUTHOR MOVIES ….. 

The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover 

The wife of an ogre-like restaurateur finds solace in a torrid love affair carried out mostly in silence. When her lover is killed by her tyrant husband, she gets her revenge by forcing the murderer to eat his well-cooked corpse. Some say this lush, gothic feast of a film is director Peter Greenaway’s metaphor for the Thatcher era. I just liked Helen Mirren’s incredible Gautier corsets. 

Welcome to the Dollhouse 

I related deeply, very deeply, to Weiner Dog, the anti-heroine of Todd Solondz’s brilliant and excruciating black comedy. Who hasn’t, in their prepubescent heyday, lusted after unattainable Steves, only to settle for punks with knives? 

Secrets and Lies 

English director Mike Leigh’s unique improvisational filmmaking approach brings me more deeply into the lives of his characters than anything I have experienced in film. Nothing broke my heart like this film’s portrayal of two women, a mother and an adoptee, finding each other. 

Breaking the Waves 

Danish director Lars von Trier is an infamous dick to his female protagonists, but somehow these women survive his up-close, excruciating portraits and transcend his dark agendas. Odd duck Bess MacNeill from Scotland is my favorite. 

Amélie 

A lonely Parisian girl with whimsical, color-saturated worlds churning inside her. Yann Tiersen’s achingly dreamy piano and accordion score. Together, they made this film as irresistible to me as a pastry dreamed of but not yet invented. 

Swimming Pool 

Uptight, icy English writer undone by her encounter with a hot French girl. Charlotte Rampling shows us that the world of the imagination begins with fixation and jealousy. And a swimming pool. 

Exotica 

Lonely characters living in the aftermath of a loss that has estranged them from their lives, themselves and each other. I love all of Canadian Director Atom Egoyan’s films but this story of a missing girl—presented in compellingly cryptic fragments and flashbacks—remains a favorite. Not to mention Michael Danna’s sexy-dark score. 

Rear Window 

My mother and I watched a ton of Hitchcock films and I loved them all, but this one tapped into my early love of voyeurism. Also, there was Grace Kelly taking cringe-worthy risks for her wheelchair bound boyfriend. All while wearing an assortment of jaw-dropping dresses. 

Charade 

Audrey Hepburn in Paris. Impeccably chic whilst eating too many sandwiches. Licking an ice cream cone with Cary Grant by the Seine. Smoking elegantly, emaciatedly over a gruyere-laden bowl of French onion soup. Audrey is still somehow and always svelte and stylish Audrey. My fat-girl heart was charmed and baffled. 

Mulholland Drive 

Lynch’s dark, warped fairy tale that explores the strange dynamics between two women haunted me and opened my eyes to the storytelling power of fearless, unchecked imagination. 

Shirley Valentine 

Middle-aged Manchester housewife dreams of leaving her dreary suburban life and sitting by the seaside in Greece. What spoke to me was not only the letdown she experiences when her dream is realized, but her courageous decision to stay anyway, and forge a new dream. Also, I could have watched Shirley talking candidly to a wall forever. 

Shag 

A movie in which, among other things, a “chubby” girl aptly named Pudge gets to dance with the leading man’s best friend. What more could a fat, 11-year-old girl want besides watching Bridget Fonda be bitchy in a bikini? 

Muriel’s Wedding 

Chubbed out Toni Collette in a too-tight leopard print dress sitting alone in her bedroom listening with solemn intensity to Abba on a pink ghetto blaster. Need I say more? 

BOOKS ….. 

The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz by Russell Hoban 

Hoban was perhaps best known for his children’s books, but it was his first novel for adults, a magical story where anger and fierce love are literal lions stalking the streets of London, that made me a die-hard fan. 

The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter 

“The summer she was fifteen, Melanie discovered she was made of flesh and blood.” So begins Angela Carter’s dark fairy tale novel which involves a monster puppeteer, a gothic toyshop and a sinister reenactment of my favorite myth, Leda and the Swan. 

Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro 

Not only is this a wonderful story, told with a rich first-person narrative, but I love the way Ishiguro can create a narrator who is so blind to certain truths inside himself, truths that are available to the reader to recognize, but that the narrator can’t access due to his own psychological and emotional blind spots. 

Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson 

Twelve dancing princesses. A giant Dog Woman who uses a ship’s sail as her skirt. Jeanette Winterson’s mesmeric, magical prose made this novel biblical for me. 

The Lover by Marguerite Duras 

This erotic, dreamy novel about a young French girl’s romance with a Chinese man made such an impression on my 17-year-old soul that it took years to stop emulating Duras’ pared down, cryptic prose. 

By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Elizabeth Smart 

Canadian writer Elizabeth Smart was in madly in love with the poet George Barker and this was her torrential, warped love song to him, complete with dreamlike references to song of songs. 

The Torn Skirt by Rebecca Godfrey 

Best angsty girl fever dream novel ever. Ever. 

Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut 

Kilgore Trout, a prolific but unread vagabond science fiction writer. Dwayne Hoover, a mentally ill car salesman who believes Trout’s story is the literal truth. Vonnegut’s tragicomic novel and his 50-year-old birthday present to himself was a gift to me every time I read it. And not just because of the dirty drawings. 

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis 

A brilliant, very disturbing and complicated portrait of a monster who is at the same time a product of his culture and his age. I was riveted by Patrick Bateman even as I was repulsed by him. 

The Diaries of Anais Nin 

Oh to be this lovely, eccentric woman beautifully ruminating about love, possibility, sex, and literature in 1930s Paris. 

Armies of the Moon by Gwendolyn MacEwan 

I owned the record of Gwendolyn MacEwan reading these lush, lonely poems and I listened to it and read it along with her, out loud. Her haunting voice is as much a part of the poems as the poems themselves. 

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte 

 I still remember when I first read the riveting scene in which Jane Eyre confronts Rochester in the garden. Probably I’d been reading too much Austen, but when Jane at last says everything she feels, it is one of the most exhilarating moments in fiction.

Foxfire by Joyce Carol Oates 

“Foxfire burns and burns.” “Foxfire never looks back.” “Foxfire is your heart.” Such are the tenets of this outlaw girlgang/true-blood sisterhood in the 50s. A blazing fire of a story, told in breakneck, breathless prose, this book was my teenage heart. 

DISCUSSION OF QUESTIONS: 

1. Early in the book, Lizzie is a big alternative music fan, but as she gets older, her passion for it seems to wane. What does music represent for Lizzie? Are there things about your adolescent self that you miss? 

2. As we see in “My Mother’s Idea of Sexy,” Elizabeth has a close relationship with her mother, but it is also very strained, made even more complicated by both women’s issues with their bodies. What do you make of their relationship? Did you relate to it? 

3. Lizzie’s two main friendships in the book are with Mel and China, only one of which lasts into adulthood. Why is that? What do you think Lizzie gains from each of these friendships? How are they different? 

4. What was your reaction when reading “Your Biggest Fan”? Do you think Lizzie knows that this is how he feels about her? How does it feel to see Lizzie from his perspective? 

5. An office is full of fraught relationships—in “The Girl I Hate,” Lizzie frequently goes out to lunch with a girl she hates, but who she also admits is an extremely nice person. What did you make of their dynamic? Did you relate to it? 

6. Several scenes in the book are set in fitting rooms. How is each visit different, and how are they the same? Do you share any of Lizzie’s anxieties? 

7. In “She’ll Do Anything,” we hear from Lizzie’s (now Elizabeth’s) husband Tom, who met her when she was bigger. What are your thoughts on his actions and the way he thinks of his wife in this section? What has changed between them, and why? 

8. Do you think Lizzie was happier in the beginning or the end of the book? Do you think she’s happy at any point? 

9. How did you feel about the ending? Do you think Lizzie will ever learn to accept herself? 

10. Throughout the book, Lizzie wrestles with her body image and self-esteem, but there are other universal aspects of her experience, too, from feeling misunderstood to struggling to find love to fraught relationships to just plain old teenage angst. Did you relate to any of these struggles? All of them?

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

Thanks to Cat and the wonderful folks at Penguin Books, I have a print copy of 13 WAYS OF LOOKING AT A FAT GIRL by Mona Awad to giveaway. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. only and will end at 12 a.m. (EST) on Sunday, Feb. 21.

To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and following the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient. A winner will be selected by the Rafflecopter widget and I’ll send an email with the subject line “Thoughts in Progress 13 Ways Giveaway.” The winner will have 72 hours to reply to the email or another winner will be selected. PLEASE be sure to check your spam folder from time to time after the giveaway ends. If you win and you’ve already won the book somewhere else or you just decide for whatever reason you don’t want to win, once again PLEASE let me know.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Do you think too much attention is put on youngsters’ weight and the way they look? Are you a member of a book club? If so, what’s the best thing about a book club?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

13 comments:

  1. Our weight affects how we think and feel big time. And I know people who still felt fat after losing a lot of weight.

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  2. Healthy body image is such an important part of a healthy identity, whether we like it or not. Teaching young people to love who they are is critical.

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  3. It's time we looked at the person and not the body.

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  4. A very complicated subject for all of us. I look forward to reading what this author has to say on the subject. My own feelings about weight are skewed in many ways and I agree that it's important to encourage young people to be comfortable within themselves.

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  5. Wow. Body image is a huge issue...the funny thing is, it's never good enough in this society. Young girls grow up now worrying about "thigh gap" and cankles. I actually heard one girl say her boyfriend said she was "skinny fat" because even though she was thin, she wasn't toned. I really would love to cover the whole thing in a fun way in a tween book...just not sure how to do it. This whole comment may have inspired me!

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  6. A captivating book which looks at an important topic. Thanks for this feature.

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  7. Just looking at the title started me thinking about friends of mine who have struggled with weight and self image issues. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of this book.

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  8. I think there is too much emphasis put on looks. If they are active and eating well then that is most important to me.

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  9. I think there is too much emphasis put on looks. If they are active and eating well then that is most important to me.

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  10. Sounds like a read more young people should be exposed to. Everyone has differences, as well as feelings.

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I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.