Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Stick Figure - Lori Gottlieb

Summary:  That's when all the trouble started.  First of all, my long blond hair kept getting darker and darker until it finally turned brown.  I know it doesn't sound that terrible, but one of Mom's magazines said if you have "dishwater brown" hair, you should take that "boring" hair and make it more "exciting" by dyeing it red or platinum blond.  Then next to the article there were these pictures of three different ladies with brown, red, and blond hair.  The redhead and the blond lady were smiling like those people on game shows who win trips to Hawaii, but the lady with the brown hair looked like she was about to cry.  So now I'm stuck with hair that makes you cry.  But that's just part of what's happened to me since second grade.  Believe me, it gets a hundred times worse.  (Image from and summary from back of the book.)

My Review:  Like walking down a familiar and difficult path, this book brought back many harsh memories for me.  The difference was that I was seeing anorexia through the eyes of an anorexic and not as a bystander.  This book rang true--Lori's intelligence, control, disdain for others, her fixation on minor things, her skewed perception of herself and others and her desire to never grow up--because being a grown up is hard.  Reading this was almost deja vu but instead of watching it, it was almost as if I was living anorexia.  I'm amazed at the diary of this young girl and yet all her social commentaries fit my own experience.  Young girls are sent so many mixed messages but the most prevalent at the teen age is to be thin and sexy.  Sadly, Lori's story starts at the tender age of eleven.  The girls I knew dealing with this were thirteen and older.  I cannot fathom watching a pre-teen going through anorexia and becoming so thin.  The distortion she details is right on: anorexics literally cannot see themselves for what they really are physically.  Her stubbornness, although frightening, is reality for a girl suffering from an eating disorder.

What I'm not sure is portrayed accurately was her recovery.  She just decided one day that it was just too much work to be the thinnest.  I know that this was true for her case.  Or maybe it wasn't but the book needed to end and she needed to show how it truly is a decision on behalf of the sick and no one else.  I think it would be helpful for readers, as well as young girls dealing with an eating disorder, reading the book to know that for some recovery is long, painful process with ups and downs, something that for many never truly goes away.

I must applaud her epilogue.  Lori Gottlieb is honest, blunt, and doesn't sugar-coat the reality of what she sees--it's refreshing.  Her sentiments about our culture, the advertising in the USA are poisoning the minds of young girls and plague the minds of women.  And we often sit there and take it, embracing it for some, loathing it for others, but nonetheless simply accepting the messages that are sent.

If you're needing to understand an eating disorder and want to truly understand what it's about, this is a good first step.  It will help the reader understand it's not as simple as just taking a bite--it's a mindset that must be changed, a world that should be challenged when it sends such debilitating messages to young girls.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Sum it up: An insiders look at teenage anorexia.


Julie @ Read Handed said...

A great nonfiction book/memoir on recovering from anorexia is Brave Girl Eating by Harriet Brown. It's a true story of a family's struggle with anorexia, told from the point of view of the mother of the anorexic girl. It shows what a true struggle recovery is. The girl, Kitty, wanted so badly to get better and to make her parents happy, but she just couldn't eat. I haven't been paid to share this, I just read it last summer and was impressed and moved by the story. :)

Stephanie said...

Reading over my own review of this, I was very much bothered by Lori's mom. She really created an unhealthy environment for Lori. I don't know if her mom was the sole cause or if Lori was predisposed to it and Mom didn't help, but either way, holy cow...Obviously her mom had issues herself, but I think when you have a child, parents should work as hard as possible on their issues so as to not pass them on to their kids.

I was really struck by Lori's young age at the onset. So very sad. :(

Kari said...

Thanks Julie! I'm going to look into that one.


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