Monday, May 11, 2009

Eating Disorders, Wintergirls, and the New York Times

Today's kidlit brouhaha is brought to you by the New York Times, who ran an article titled, "The Troubling Allure of Eating Disorders." Focusing on Laurie Halse Anderson's latest, Wintergirls, it explores a question asked in the same paper's review of the novel:
Can a novel convey, however inadvertently, an allure to anorexic behavior?
Much like this blog post, the article is mainly a collection of quotes from different sources. For my money, the really interesting part of this comes in the comments, which seesaw wildly between, "How could that ever happen?" and "Yeah, that's the way it works," with some grace notes on the theme of, "We should keep this book away from teenagers vulnerable to eating disorders."

My favorite comment, however, states:
I would rather my daughter reads that and gets a real idea of what can happen than having her see pictures of anorexic models or actresses and aspiring to be like them before understanding the costs. Hiding things doesn’t keep kids from them, it just gives other sources more authority. What’s scarier than that?
If a parent is that concerned for their child's mental health that they believe he or she might see Wintergirls as inspiration, it's time for more than simply revoking their library card.

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