Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters

BlogHer Original Post

As a mom of daughters and as a woman with some disordered eating patterns, Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters by Courtney Martin was a tough read. A very tough read. The first few chapters had me second guessing everything I've said to my daughters and everything I've exposed them to.

Those first few chapters had me pointing out "Perfect Girls" as we drove through campus and wandered around the mall. Those first few chapters left me wondering about mothers who teach their daughters to put their finger down their throat and vomit up their food. I was amazed by mothers who feed their sons "seconds" but restrict portions for their daughters, not because they believe sons are more important but because they believe daughters should be trained to eat less so they will find it easier to keep their weight down when they are older. Those first few chapters left me wondering if there's any way to keep our daughters from struggling with body image, eating disorders and the overwhelming need to be perfect.

I put the book down for awhile and focused on REDESIGN! (heh!) and picked it back up vowing to read with a detached eye. That worked better, for as long as I could remain detached. Detachment doesn't last long when you're a mom with a lot of daughters talking about their weight, or whether "this makes me look fat" or worrying about whether they'll get As when they go back to school in the fall and talking about being "over-scheduled".

While I was reading Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters I kept stumbling across blog posts, written by women, about weight and food and negative body image.


So anyway, Dairy Queen. I had one of those chocolate dipped waffle cone bowls filled with every kind of sugar and fat known to man. Plus extra caramel. I ate a third of it and then drenched it with a good long squirt of the sunscreen I found in the glove box, so I'd stop eating before I was sorry. (Thanks to Carnie Wilson for teaching me to ruin my dessert!)

bipolar chicks blogging:

It's hard to keep yourself from punishing yourself when you don't do the things you feel you SHOULD be doing... you know... losing weight/keeping weight on... keeping the house clean... getting the projects done... (writing the poetry... creating the art)... I feel like I should be creating, achieving, and instead I just keep slipping further and further into domesticity, like a cat... you know? just getting lazier and lazier, having nothing to show for my miserable life... I go to sleep, I get up, I feed the kids, I feed the birds, I try not to feed myself (or shall I?)...I clean what's in front of me...

After a few of those types of posts, I thought it might be interesting to see just how often I saw women talking in negative terms about their bodies, their clothing, and food so I kept track last week. 72 blog posts by women fit into this category and one by a man. How often do you hear women talking negatively about their bodies, their clothing and the food that they eat - and how often do you hear men talk this way?

All of this leads me right back to the BlogHer Conference panel Our Bodies, Our Blogs. This question, stemming from discussions about this panel, Do I really hate myself? is an excellent one. I don't know what the answer is. I don't think there is any easy answer.

I consider myself a feminist (no, I'm not one of those, "I'm not a feminist, but..." people), so this is an important issue to me: Whether you can honestly love yourself and other women just as they are, while still striving actively to lose weight, for whatever reason. I don't want to think I'm engaging in an inherently destructive activity by writing about my weight-loss efforts and my feelings about them.

I can't leave out these two posts about anorexia, either: Anorexia & Sex Survey: Part 1 and Anorexia & Sex Survey: Part 2 (I believe more posts in this series will be coming as well, so you should bookmark/subscribe to this blog and read the rest when it's published!)

however, when asked about their ideal sexual partner, being thin is not nearly as interesting. 29% want him or her to be “thin” or “i want to see bones” (37% if you disregard those for whom body size is not important).

If you just look at the links I've shared, or if you just read the quotes I've pulled from those blogs, it won't surprise you to read the following stats from Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters:

  • More than 1/2 of American women 18-25 would prefer to be run over by a truck or die young than be fat.
  • More than 2/3 would rather be mean or stupid than be fat.

Would you rather be mean or stupid than fat? And what, exactly, is "fat"? 5lbs overweight? 50lbs? At what point would you rather be dead... if you're a mom - at what point would your daughter want to be dead? Have you asked her?

Flamingo House Happenings and Fast Times @ Homeschool High


In order to comment on, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.