We interrupt this week’s regularly scheduled posts…

May 20th, 2009 • Kate

rockwell_mirror… for some distressing news. According to a new study, “Being overweight — or simply believing they are overweight — might predispose some U.S. teens to suicide attempts.” is this just me, or is this horrifying?

It’s all about image for teens, and this study shows that reality has very little to do with perception. As authors of books for teens and young adults, I don’t want to say it’s your duty to try to counter studies like this, but do please bear it in mind for your characters. On a personal note, I really love seeing overweight characters who don’t hate themselves, and don’t focus exclusively on their weight. What other character tropes can you overthrow?

Link via Jezebel.

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7 Responses to “We interrupt this week’s regularly scheduled posts…”

  1. Scott Says:

    I guess I grew up in a different time and place. I was a fat child. My sisters used to roll me down the hill in the backyard when I was little. Yes, I'm in therapy over those repressed memories. Kidding. The point is, I was fat, I was teased, but it was a different world back then.

    Today's world is the Internet world where images of skinny people are everywhere . . . and where bullying enters a whole new dimension.

    I recently blogged about a young boy (the second in recent weeks) who killed himself because he was being bullied.

    http://soaprants.blogspot.com/2009/04/other-day-i

    When did suicide become an option for young kids? How did society move toward this option? Aren't kids supposed to live a carefree life until they reach adulthood? Aren't kids not really supposed to worry about being too fat/thin? I never worried about it. My parents didn't seem overly concerned. I hit my teenage years and the weight began to drop off.

    Is television -90210, Gossip Girl, Etc. – with the way too skinny actresses to blame? Is TMZ making fun of Jessica Simpson for having weight on her to blame? Does it really matter who is to blame?

    How do we (society) stop the madness? How do parents affirm to their children that it is okay not to be super thin?

    S

  2. Karen Says:

    I don't have any children yet, but this is a subject I understand. As an overweight child–well kinda, when your older sister wears a size 3 and you wear a 10, anything might make you feel overweight. I wasn't teased by my family and friends, but people always noticed a difference between how slim my sister was and how "thick" I was.

    I try to keep in mind how I felt back then, being compared, and I make sure I'm not careless in the way I act with people or write my characters. I hope that I'm responsible in my writing, while keeping it authentic…I hope.

  3. AudryT Says:

    What drives me crazy is parents and even doctors using "health" as an excuse now to tell children there's something wrong with their being any weight but skinny. (You know where the "obesity epidemic" came from? Doctors dropped the official "overweight" weight ten pounds — and then declared that an epidemic had appeared overnight.) Genuine obesity can have health issues and physical challenges, but an obsession with thin and perfect can have emotional issues that destroy a person's life.

    Some bodies are *built* plump and so the effing what? It isn't just the media and entertainment that won't accept that; it's also parents and doctors — the very individuals who are supposed to be protecting the children who end up being torn down by their scales and expectations.

  4. gm Says:

    My parents had it real bad. When my sister was a kid, fat was considered good and healthy. So both she and my mom faced plenty of criticism for her being skinny.

    But when I was in my teens, thin was in, and people even five kgs overweight, like me, were teased all the time. I guess you can't win them all!

  5. Kiersten White Says:

    I was a size zero in high school and constantly worried that my thighs looked too big when I sat down, or that my tummy wasn't perfectly flat.

    Two kids later and, well, I was an idiot. But it was a very real pressure and concern. I haven't dealt with that in a book yet, but I think I will someday.

  6. Jenny Tonks Says:

    My novel focuses on this topic, albeit in a supernatural vein so as to soften the blow for those teens who struggle with weight issues. If you're wanting to help spread the word on healthy lifestyle to teen readers everywhere, check out my manuscript at http://www.jennytonks.com/

  7. Jenny Tonks Says:

    My novel addresses this issue, albeit in a supernatural vein so as to avoid offending those who may be sensitive to body-based stereotypes. I still need an agent to help get this book out there for teens in need of healthy lifestyle guidance, so please click my link to read a synopsis!