>Beach Reads: Thin is the New Happy

>Okay, Beth and I got to Seagrove Beach Thursday night, and Beth is almost finished reading 2 books and I’ve read 1 ½…. The weather is gorgeous. Even the storm clouds and thunder behind our beach condo, which never quite made it to the beach. We’re in the middle unit of the 9 units in the building behind Beth in the picture. I’ve already had enough sun and we’ve got two more days here… lots of time under the beach umbrella covered in sunblock!

My morning walks have been lovely… mostly accompanied by a lone heron here…

I really haven’t taken many pictures yet, so I’ll get on with the Beach Read report.

Thin Is the New Happy
by Valerie Frankel yesterday. I’ve never read any of Frankel’s novels, but I was drawn to her memoir because of the subject matter, of course.

It’s both heartening and discouraging to read about another woman who has spent so many years obsessed with body image, weight, dieting. It’s not that misery loves company, but rather that I think we can learn from each other.

Frankel’s stories about her mother’s efforts, beginning with Valerie was just a child, at trying to force her to be skinny, do remind me of my own mother’s similar obsession. And yes, I’m encouraged by the way that Frankel is overcoming it, although I don’t think my journey will be the same. One thing I did sit up and listen to was her revelation that she used dieting and weight obsession as a distraction from other serious life issues. I guess I’ve always believed that those other issues fed the body image obsession, rather than seeing them as separate entities. It’s definitely food for thought.

It was fun to read that Frankel was friends with Stacy London, co-host of the tv show, “What Not To Wear,” which I had just recently discovered. Stacy actually goes to Valeries’ home and goes through her closet (like on the show) and helps her learn to find her “personal style” and that it’s not about what size you are. I love this part:

Size doesn’t matter. You can look at feel great at any size…. Grace, personality, and intelligence are the things you love about yourself on the inside—and you can love them about yourself on the outside, too…. Fashion makes women feel insecure. Personal style is derived from you, not from a magazine or a designer. When you dress according to your personal style… you’ll respect yourself like you can’t even begin to imagine.

Turns out Stacy was a philosophy major at Vassar. Her show, and her goal, is not to promote self discovery and self confidence. Good stuff.

I won’t try to tell Frankel’s story—if you or someone you love struggles with body image issues you should read it—but I’ll close by sharing some of what Frankel writes near the end of the book as a “teaser”:

Excess weight was the physical accumulation of past hurts, insults, disappointments, and resentments that, once released from the mind and soul, were freed from the body…. In their place was a glut of self-awareness. I was convinced that any woman—and I do mean any—could melt town to her genetically predetermined true weight by (1) stopping dieting today, (2) silencing her negative inner voice, (3) forgiving everyone who’d contributed to her forming a bad body image, and (4) working out four times a week.

Sounds like a plan. I’ll let you know how/if I’m able to apply it to myself in the coming days, months, years….

In the meanwhile, I’ve got two more books I picked up as “research” for Dressing the Part (the memoir-in-progress) but which might also offer some insights into personal issues: Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, and Target Underwear and a Vera Wang Gown by Adena Halpern.

But first, I’m already into a completely different kind of beach read—River Jordan’s new novel, Saints in Limbo, and I’m loving it. True literary prose. A joy to read. Watch for a review soon!

That’s all for now. Might not post again for a few days…. Beth and I are leaving Seagrove Tuesday and spending a night in Jackson (MS) to visit my mom and for Beth to see some friends there, so we’ll be back in Memphis on Wednesday. I’ll leave you with a pic of a cloudy sunset. I kept hoping the clouds would move and finally Beth said, “But Mom, this is beautiful.”

Please share!

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