ghosts with beating hearts

Source: mudchild.tumblr.com
I recently read a book called Wintergirls, which was written by one of my favourite authors, Laurie Halse Anderson. Other books that she has written include the award-winning Speak (which was turned into a movie starring pre-Twilight Kristen Stewart, that, according to FlavorWire, is supposed to be very good), and one of my favourite historical novels, Chains (this should be made into a movie too. Quvenzhan√© Wallis would make a PERFECT Ruth). Anyway, Wintergirls was published all the way back in 2009, but I'm glad I didn't read it earlier. I probably wouldn't have understood it properly.

The novel's protagonist, Lia, is an eighteen year old girl who is struggling with anorexia nervosa- an eating disorder in which the victim becomes overly conscious of their weight and food & calorie intake, resulting in self-starvation. At the beginning of the novel, Lia receives news that her best friend (or perhaps it would be more accurate to refer to her as Lia's former best friend, as they had drifted apart a few months prior to the start of the book), Cassie, has just died. Cassie was a victim of bulimia, another type of eating disorder where the patient follows frequent binge and purge cycles in order to lose weight. On the night Cassie died, she called Lia thirty-three times. Lia never picked up. Over the course of the book, she struggles with a feeling of guilt, her relationships with her family and her disease. She frequently has hallucinations of Cassie, who taunts her, telling her that she is "a wintergirl"- not dead, but not alive either. The New York Times reviewed the book as being a "fearless, riveting account of a young woman in the grip of a deadly illness". 

As gripping as the book was, it was also hard to read. Lia was constantly engaging herself in self-depreciating dialogue. She would repeatedly tell herself that she was fat, stupid and disgusting. The text provided the reader with an insight into Lia's conflicting thoughts- she would feel hungry, and then would reprimand herself the next minute, reminding herself that to give in would be to show weakness. She had a warped view of reality, believing that starving herself and depriving her body of essential nutrients was strength. In her mind, the thinner she became, the stronger she was.

The fact that Lia's character is so believable and realistic reminds you that there are so many people out there who suffer from the same disease. It allows you to take a peek into how their minds may work and how they must feel. Most teenagers these days have body image issues. We feel as if we're under pressure to be perfect and to be perfect, we must look perfect. As we are anyway going through so many different changes, both emotional and physical, it's easier said than done to be comfortable in our own skin. Many of us are under the mistaken impression that we have to be stick-thin in order to be beautiful. This can lead to teens falling off the edge of the cliff and into the grips of a deadly eating disorder.

The idea that skinny=beautiful originates from the contorted view of beauty that we are bombarded with by the media. Look into the pages of any gossip magazine and you'll see praises for the size zero models, singers and actresses and scathing reviews of those who have gained weight. It's easy to compare yourself to the tiny figure on the page and simply wonder why you aren't as thin.

From left to right: Cara Delevingne, Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato.
At my school, the Year 9's recently had their science fair. One particular group did their project on eating disorders. They took pictures of Cara Delevingne, Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato and asked people to comment on who they thought was healthy and who they thought was fat. Surprisingly, many people said that Cara was healthy while Selena and Demi were fat. This shocked me, because Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato are not fat. They are a healthy weight, and they are both beautiful people. Why is it that we don't embrace all body types?

Look at all of the successful people out there who are comfortable in their own skin! Take Adele for instance. She's been the recipient of a whole lot of criticism regarding her weight, but has remained confident. She hasn't let it get to her or affect her performances at all. I mean, did you hear her at the Oscars? Jennifer Lawrence is another example. She didn't want to lose a huge amount of weight for The Hunger Games (even though Katniss is supposed to be starving) because she didn't want little girls to be like "oh, I want to look like Katniss so I think I'll skip dinner". Scarlett Johansson doesn't have a flat stomach and is still considered one of the most beautiful women in the world. Just look at this Tumblr post. Even Marylin Monroe showed absolutely no resemblance to a twig.

In conclusion, to be thin is not necessarily to be beautiful. Each of us has our own unique body type and we should learn to love the way we look and feel comfortable in our skin. Starving ourselves is not the answer, by any means. Don't strive to be thin, just be healthy. I leave you with this. Out.


  1. I thought this was really good! I'm really shocked how your class thought Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato were fat though! They are a healthy weight indeed! I think there needs to be more education into counteracting this media perception of beauty that we've all been forced into. I also liked how you've tied in a book review and a society issue :)

  2. This is a great post, I totally agree that you don't need to be super skinny to be healthy.
    I love your blog :)


  3. I know it may be hard to believe, but you can be as thin as the first girl and still be healthy. I know someone who eats plenty, eats normally, and is still 80-something pounds. She's had blood tests and whatever, and they say she's healthy.

    Wintergirls was powerful. As was Speak. Both were incredible in their rawness and honesty.

  4. All three of those girls are beautiful and natural! All good role models to teens growing up.. Check it out and follow! http://teenagehellz.blogspot.com xx gabi nice blog!