The Bottom Line
By Abby Ellin; 257 pages. Subtitle: A Former Fat Kid Weighs In on Living Large, Losing Weight, and How Parents Can (and Can't) Help
Most parents have had the experience of sitting down with an upset, overwhelmed child and offering possible solutions, only to have each one shot down. That's kind of the way this book reads. Ellin gives a good picture of the difficulty of being a fat kid and investigates lots of programs that seek to help, but is much better at pointing out flaws than solutions.
- Gives firsthand view of the confusing world of overweight kids
- Points out the flaws in weight camps and other schemes
- Offers good psychological view of how kids get screwed up about food
- Has sympathy and affection for overweight kids
- Full of food for thought for families looking for answers
- A kids' point of view is instructive, but not always constructive
- Better at pointing out flaws than coming up with fixes
- Negativity suggests author may still not have come to terms with her food issues
- Has no sympathy and affection for parents
- Short on hope or suggestions for families looking for answers
- Introduction: Fat Kid Blues
- Chapter 1: Ho Hos in Paradise
- Chapter 2: Behavior Modification and Its Discontents
- Chapter 3: Mothers Against Fat Kids
- Chapter 4: The Myths of Willpower and Control
- Chapter 5: Honey, I Shrunk My Stomach!
- Chapter 6: Size Acceptance: Fat or Fiction?
- Chapter 7: Inner Fat Camp
- Epilogue: Weighing Grandma
- A Guide to Resources
Guide Review - Book Review: Teenage Waistland
I wanted to like this book. I'm interested in the perspective of a teen who's been through all the diets and camps and behavior modification associated with overweight children and lived to tell the tale. As a young adult, Ellin has some perspective on her teen experiences and behavior, and she's an engaging writer, sprinkling her tales of gustatory excess with humor and self-deprecation. Maybe perspective's the problem, though: She has enough to tell us forthrightly what didn't work and why, but not enough to give any useful ideas on what would have helped.
The result is a very disheartening read for parents, for whom the message here is: You caused the problem. You're making it worse. And nothing you do will ever be right. Ignore your child's weight? Bad. Draw attention to your child's weight? Bad. Limit food choices? Bad. Allow child to make own food choices? Bad. Bad, bad parent. It's enough to make you want to grab a plate of brownies and curl up in a dark room.
All the same, Ellin's voice and the voices of the young people she interviews are important ones to hear. Learning what to avoid does have some value, even if the lack of positive suggestions is a little paralyzing. And I look forward to the possibility that, some years from now, Ellin may herself be a parent and have a little more perspective on the perilous difficulty of that job. I'd still like some good ideas, from someone who's been there, of how best to help an overweight child.