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Book Review: Good Girls Don’t Get Fat

Good Girls Don't Get FatGood Girls Don’t Get Fat by Robyn Sil­ver­man
My rat­ing: 5 of 5 stars

This book is absolute­ly amaz­ing, and I strong­ly rec­om­mend it to everyone.

Yes, I said every­one. If you are a human being who is read­ing this post/​review, you live in a first-world soci­ety and you inter­act with females. You will ben­e­fit from a greater under­stand­ing of what mod­ern social stan­dards do to young females and how they shape us for the rest of our lives, how they twist us into dis­or­dered think­ing that touch­es absolute­ly every­thing we do, from how we think about our­selves to our per­son­al and busi­ness rela­tion­ships, our spir­i­tu­al­i­ty, our health — every­thing. And you will have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to change how you inter­act with females, par­tic­u­lar­ly girls, so that you are more of a pos­i­tive influ­ence rather than yet anoth­er per­son who is pulling her down and hold­ing her back.

I was already famil­iar with some of the research regard­ing the media and unre­al­is­tic por­tray­als of women. I knew that every mag­a­zine cov­er is Pho­to­shopped and air­brushed, that “nor­mal” mod­els rep­re­sent only 1 – 2% of real women, etc. I didn’t know that 5% of Amer­i­can high school girls have turned to tak­ing ana­bol­ic steroids in order to get a more toned, slim look, accord­ing to the CDC’s 2003 Youth Risk Behav­ior Sur­veil­lance Sys­tem, and that one out of every 14 girls in Amer­i­can mid­dle schools have tried steroids for the same pur­pose. I had heard that the pop­u­lar­i­ty of cos­met­ic surgery for young peo­ple was ris­ing, but I had no idea that it was as preva­lent as it is. I can’t remem­ber exact­ly how high, but it was frightening.

If there is a young lady in your life, stop for a moment and think — are you a pos­i­tive influ­ence on her? When young women in col­lege were asked about what they recall their par­ents say­ing about their bod­ies as they grew up, 80% of the respons­es were of neg­a­tive remarks. What will the girl in your life remem­ber you say­ing? If you’ve ever won­dered whether or not you should talk to her about los­ing a lit­tle weight, don’t. Believe me — the rest of the world has already beat­en that into her, and will go on doing so every minute of every day. There’s no way she doesn’t know that her body is unac­cept­able, whether she’s still car­ry­ing a lit­tle baby fat, is mor­bid­ly obese, or sim­ply has a slight­ly round face.

One of the things I admire most about Good Girls Don’t Get Fat is that it doesn’t just talk about how bad things are, it gives con­crete sug­ges­tions for improve­ment! That’s what we need.

The book is avail­able in any for­mat you can imag­ine. Pick it up. It’s an easy read, and wonderful.

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Is crying cathartic for you?

I hate crying, and will go to great lengths to avoid letting anyone see me cry—a habit I acquired as a child, because I didn't want to let my father "win" when he hurt me. I always feel worse, rather than better, if I do cry about anything, so I've never understand why anybody could talk about "having a good cry." This piece from today's today's Delanceyplace mailing was informative.

Some researchers now say that the common psychological wisdom about crying—crying as a healthy catharsis—is incomplete and misleading. Having a "good cry" can and usually does allow people to recover some mental balance after a loss. But not always and not for everyone, argues a review article in the current issue of the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science. ...

In her book Seeing Through Tears: Crying and Attachment, Judith Kay Nelson, a therapist and teacher living in Berkeley, Calif., argues that the experience of crying is rooted in early childhood and people's relationship with their primary caregiver, usually a parent. Those whose parents were attentive, soothing their cries when needed, tend to find that crying also provides them solace as adults. Those whose parents held back, or became irritated or overly upset by the child's crying, often have more difficulty soothing themselves as adults.

"Crying, for a child, is a way to beckon the caregiver, to maintain proximity and use the caregiver to regulate mood or negative arousal," Dr. Nelson said in a phone interview. Those who grow up unsure of when or whether that soothing is available can, as adults, get stuck in what she calls protest crying—the child's helpless squall for someone to fix the problem, undo the loss.

"You can't work through grief if you're stuck in protest crying, which is all about fixing it, fixing the loss," Dr. Nelson said. "And in therapy—as in close relationships—protest crying is very hard to soothe, because you can't do anything right, you can't undo the loss. On the other hand, sad crying that is an appeal for comfort from a loved one is a path to closeness and healing."

Tears can cleanse, all right. But like a flash flood, they may also leave a person feeling stranded, and soaked.


Benedict Carey, "The Muddled Tracks of All Those Tears," The New York Times, Health Section, February 2, 2009

News Flash: Decatur Teen Comes Home Early From Date!

What a weirdo! I mean, you’d think these kids were being, I don’t know, respon­si­ble or some­thing! Just because she has an appoint­ment ear­ly in the morn­ing, she came home early. 

Kids these days! I don’t think I ever got home an hour and a half before curfew.

Maybe she’s smarter than I was. Hmmm.

But, real­ly, she should have giv­en us a warn­ing. She caught us podcasting!

Ohs noes, I have to get up in the morning!

I mean, like get up by a cer­tain time and be con­scious enough to dri­ve, which is unusu­al. Real­ly unusu­al, as I very sel­dom dri­ve. But the girl needs to go see the doc­tor, and she still sees a pedi­a­tri­cian because they’re eas­i­er to get in to see when you need to see them, and sick vis­its mean wait­ing and wait­ing in the lob­by. It would take way too much of Sam’s day to try to take off work to do it. So unless I just can’t, at all, it’ll be me. So no long entry tonight!

Romance and Roleplaying

Sam has talked about this sub­ject in sev­er­al of his pod­casts, but I don’t think I’ve ever tried to address it. I may fail mis­er­ably, but I’ll try.

Sam and I had one of our twice-week­ly “date nights” tonight. That means that from about 7pm ’til we go to bed, we do noth­ing but have fun with each oth­er. The girl amus­es her­self oth­er­wise, or goes out, and we do what­ev­er we like. Usu­al­ly, that means we spend some time gaming.
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Reading

So, the Crazy Hip Blog Mamas want me to talk about what read­ing means to me or my child. How about both?
Katie reading
You might have noticed that I talk, a lot, about read­ing. I think Now Read­ing shows at least four five of the books that I’m read­ing right now, and that’s a fair­ly nor­mal num­ber. I don’t include my text­books, because they’d be there too long!

Read­ing is one of the things that I can still do, most of the time, despite the fibro and oth­er crap. I can’t always man­age to read on a screen, or fol­low some­thing like a text­book. For­tu­nate­ly, though, fic­tion by some of my favorite authors — espe­cial­ly an old favorite nov­el, like Part­ners in Neces­si­ty — is eas­i­er, and is a very good way to dis­tract myself from the pain for a while.

I haven’t talked about it much, but Katie has had increas­ing health prob­lems over the last year. Her migraines are no longer man­aged, despite tak­ing high lev­els of pre­ven­tive med­ica­tions. The res­cue med­ica­tions aren’t work­ing well because she has to take them too often. She had anoth­er round of sleep stud­ies, too, and a new neu­rol­o­gist has been try­ing dif­fer­ent med­ica­tions to help her get a decent night’s sleep (which should help the migraines and oth­er prob­lems). So far, any­thing that helps her sleep despite severe rest­less leg syn­drome leaves her zomb­i­fied the rest of the time. Provig­il, even tak­en twice a day, can’t keep her awake and aware enough to func­tion in school. She’s lit­er­al­ly sleep­ing like a cat, 14 – 18 or hours a day, just nev­er deeply. Her dark cir­cles have cir­cles, now.

But she can still read, too. Slow­ly, some days, and going back to re-read some pages, but she gets the same com­fort from it as I do. You know she’s mine when you real­ize that she’s nev­er with­out at least one, and often two, books in her purse.

I start­ed read­ing to her dur­ing my preg­nan­cy, along with talk­ing and singing and play­ing music for her. I read out loud to her from her first week out of the womb, too, some­times while breast­feed­ing, oth­er times while just being with her. She talked at an ear­ly age, and was very clear. She learned to read quick­ly, too, and has always been very opin­ion­at­ed (where did she get that?) about her choice of read­ing mat­ter. One of her favorite things about leav­ing the pub­lic school sys­tem was being free of that damned Accel­er­at­ed Read­er pro­gram and its ridicu­lous restrictions!

It’s no sur­prise that I hope my nephews and niece are read­ers, too — although that’s far less like­ly, since their par­ents aren’t, real­ly. My broth­er used to brag that he’d nev­er read any whole book, even those assigned for class­es. (I nev­er under­stood that being a point of pride, even if he did get good grades.) My sis­ter has nev­er read any­thing that wasn’t required. I don’t know their spous­es very well, but I’m fair­ly sure they aren’t recre­ation­al read­ers, either. At least the grand­ba­bies have our moth­er (their Nana), who got me start­ed read­ing, and will sit for hours with any child, read­ing book after book (or the same book, over and over) patient­ly.1 I’m not close to my sib­lings, geo­graph­i­cal­ly or oth­er­wise, so I don’t have many chances to influ­ence the babies. I can give them books, though, and hope to catch their fan­cy so they ask to have them read!

Being a flu­ent read­er gives one more of an advan­tage that any oth­er skill you can give your child. Read­ers can use that skill to learn absolute­ly any­thing else. They can explore math, sci­ence, crit­i­cal think­ing, his­to­ry, cur­rent events, art — you name it. If you teach them to read, get them in the habit of doing so, and teach them to judge their sources well, you’ve giv­en them an incred­i­ble start on life.


1 Mom (and I!) did read to my sib­lings, but nei­ther of them ever want­ed to sit still long.

Study: ADHD kids’ brain areas develop slower — CNN​.com

Expert: Find­ing shows bio­log­i­cal basis for atten­tion deficit hyper­ac­tiv­i­ty disorder

Cru­cial parts of brains of chil­dren with atten­tion deficit dis­or­der devel­op more slow­ly than oth­er young­sters’ brains, a phe­nom­e­non that ear­li­er brain-imag­ing research missed, a new study says.

ADHD Brain Maturation

Devel­op­ing more slow­ly in ADHD young­sters — the lag can be as much as three years — are brain regions that sup­press inap­pro­pri­ate actions and thoughts, focus atten­tion, remem­ber things from moment to moment, work for reward and con­trol move­ment. That was the find­ing of researchers, led by Dr. Philip Shaw of the Nation­al Insti­tute of Men­tal Health, who report­ed the most detailed study yet on this prob­lem in Monday’s online edi­tion of Pro­ceed­ings of the Nation­al Acad­e­my of Sciences.

I’ve gone from seri­ous­ly not believ­ing that ADHD exist­ed at all, to being forced to under­stand its real­i­ty because my life part­ner, his kids, and my daugh­ter all have it. These find­ings are a major advance!

I still know that plen­ty of peo­ple (par­tic­u­lar­ly bad par­ents) use ADHD as an excuse, but that can hap­pen with any dis­or­der, real or imagined.

There’s fur­ther infor­ma­tion at the Nation­al Insti­tute for Men­tal Health, where the research was done.

Packaging Boyhood

From the latest Dads & Daughters newsletter:

Our friend Dr. Mark Tappan is co-authoring a book, to be called "Packaging Boyhood" about marketing to our sons. The book aims to "scrutinize the world of boy power, and the ways media and marketers' stereotypes about how to be a man reach way down into the lives and entertainment of younger and younger boys." Mark is writing it along with Dr. Lyn Mikel Brown and Dr. Sharon Lamb, co-authors of the 2006 book Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers' Schemes.

To gather data for "Packaging Boyhood," these preeminent scholars on the role of gender in the emotional, psychological and cultural development of our children put together a very interesting online survey at www.packagingboyhood.com. Participation by dads and/or their sons will be worthwhile.

Dads & Daughters is a great resource for parents, educators, or anyone else who cares about children. This is the first time I've seen them post something son-specific, but much of their material is important regardless of the gender of your child(ren). Maybe well see a Dads & Sons before long, or something similar.

I’m a Girl Scout!

Yep, I’m a 39-year-old Girl Scout. In fact, all three of the humans in our house­hold are reg­is­tered Girl Scouts — myself, Katie, and yes, even Sam. Men can be reg­is­tered as adult Scouts. Katie’s troops have always asked that at least one, and prefer­ably both (or more if there are more!) par­ents in a fam­i­ly reg­is­ter as adult Scouts for var­i­ous reasons. 

I’ve been a troop leader in Junior and mul­ti­level (Rain­bow) troops in the past. I had one year of Brown­ies and one as a Junior Girl Scout when I was a girl. I didn’t have great expe­ri­ences, and want­ed to make things bet­ter for my daugh­ter and oth­er girls, so I stepped up to be a leader when need­ed. I found that I enjoyed it every bit as much as the girls do. As just one exam­ple, I had nev­er gone camp­ing until Katie became a Brown­ie, and thought I’d hate it, but it was real­ly fun. 

There are some mar­velous resources on the net for Girls and their par­ents and lead­ers. Katie is going to share her favorite links with oth­er girls, so I’ll con­cen­trate on the adult stuff. Since I’m rel­a­tive­ly new, I don’t have any­thing like the list of links some sites have, but I want­ed to share the best of what I have found. 

  • The Nation­al GSUSA site has far more infor­ma­tion on it than most peo­ple ever real­ize. If you don’t already know what local coun­cil serves your area, you can find out here.
  • We’re in the North­west Geor­gia coun­cil. That site also offers a wealth of infor­ma­tion. Pay spe­cial atten­tion to the reg­u­lar­ly-post­ed Learn­ing Oppor­tu­ni­ties, which is the sched­ule of class­es offered for adults and some­times for old­er girls. Coun­cil events are also post­ed here. We would have missed out on some mar­velous oppor­tu­ni­ties if we wait­ed for some­one else to tell us about them instead of check­ing the council’s site regularly.
  • The Scout­ing File Cab­i­net is a col­lec­tion of links, songs, cer­e­monies, activ­i­ties, infor­ma­tion for par­ents — you name it! It’s part of a larg­er site, the Leader/​Guide Cyber Coun­cil, which is marvelous.
  • Scout­ing­Web offers an aston­ish­ing range of material.
  • New Moon Mag­a­zine isn’t specif­i­cal­ly for Scouts, but it’s a mar­velous mag­a­zine for and by girls that does occa­sion­al­ly fea­ture some Scout­ing mate­r­i­al. They also have a great mail­ing list, care­about­girls. The list is “for adults who care about girls: par­ents, teach­ers, coach­es, coun­selors, pas­tors, troop lead­ers, rel­a­tives, researchers, etc. This is for every adult who wants to help raise healthy, con­fi­dent girls and make the world bet­ter and safer for girls.”

Some­one expressed sur­prise when learn­ing that I’m a Girl Scout leader because she was under the impres­sion that Girl Scout­ing is only for Chris­tians. I wrote an arti­cle to clear up that mis­con­cep­tion, “Is There a Pen­ta­gram Badge?”

I espe­cial­ly encour­age home­school­ing fam­i­lies to explore Girl Scout­ing as an oppor­tu­ni­ty for their daugh­ters. We use the GS badge require­ments along with unit stud­ies and they’ve giv­en us many great ideas.