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Book Review: The Body Project

“Although eating disorders…are not caused by visual images alone, these pathologies thrive in an environment in which so many “normal” people work so hard (and spend so much money) in pursuit of the perfect body.”
-page 124 

Even though it came out almost fifteen years ago, a lot of people I’ve spoken to about this book hadn’t heard of it. So, it seemed appropriate to do a write-up for it and encourage more people to read it, because it’s excellent!

With The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls, author and historian Joan Brumberg has pieced together a unique and invaluable historical account of how women and their bodies have been regarded in our country over the last 150 years using a combination of personal journals, medical textbooks, and other historical records.

Imagine being in the market for new clothing or undergarments and not having any standard sizes to reference. Prior to the sexual revolution of the 1920s, there wasn’t really any such thing as we think of it today. Undergarments were usually made by hand at home, and were far more about function than any fashion. As large companies began mass producing both undergarments and clothes, though, industry size standards cropped up to accommodate the emerging market, changing the way we thought about bodies and providing another form of measurement to scrutinize them by.

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Review: The Slender Trap by Lauren Lazar Stern

Given that it’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week, it seems appropriate to be talking about books like The Slender Trap by Art Psychotherapist and eating disorder specialist Lauren Lazar Stern. The Slender Trap is a workbook full of exercises to challenge the reader to think about eating habits and body image in different ways, and could serve as a good companion piece to a treatment program. However, when it comes to resources like this which are more in the “self-help” realm, I caution strongly against trying to rely on a single resource without any guidance from a qualified treatment professional (a sentiment echoed in the book’s introduction).

Lauren Stern offered me a copy to do a write-up with, but first asked me: “Is it OK that it’s geared towards women? It is definitely relevant for men, too, but the writing is directed towards females!” Well, it turns out she was right on both accounts. The topics and ideas in this book are relevant to potentially anyone with an eating disorder, regardless of gender. At the same time, it’s very much a book written and intended for a female audience, which I’ll comment on shortly. I don’t consider my writing to be geared at a particularly male or female audience, so I told her I’d be happy to give my impressions. As far as I’m concerned, anything which promotes and supports recovery is OK with me!

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Book Review: Restoring Our Bodies, Reclaiming Our Lives

I have just finished reading Aimee Lui’s newest scholastic offering (which I will refer to as Restoring…). If you don’t have time to sit here and read the whole review, I’ll save your time and start off by simply saying: buy this book. All proceeds benefit the Academy for Eating Disorders, so if you can afford it, buy a new copy!

Coming in at less than 200 pages, its length may belie the hours of effort and years of compiling that were required to produce this work. After the warm reception of Lui’s first ED book, Gaining (which I haven’t read yet, but intend to now), she found herself in a unique position of receiving letters from readers from all walks of life. Readers were expressing gratitude for Gaining, sharing their own struggles and triumphs with eating disorders. Those letters became the basis for Restoring… and, combined, have become a book which is greater than the sum of its parts.  Continue reading

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