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Becoming visible: Challenging weight stigma and diet culture

Carol Coven Grannick explores the issues surrounding disordered eating and body image

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For decades, clinical social worker Carol Coven Grannick worked with clients on issues surrounding disordered eating and body image-intertwined behaviors and attitudes which often had deep roots in their childhood experiences.

Yet she found virtually no children's books, secular or Jewish, that addressed these challenges.

Drawing from her clinical background and experience as a children's author, Grannick wrote Reeni's Turn , a story that explores both issues in the tale of an introverted Jewish girl's struggle to find courage, body acceptance, and her own strong voice.

"Jewish children need to see themselves, and be seen by others, in all their diverse variety, including body size," Grannick said. "Jewish children are not exempt from weight stigma and the impact of the diet culture."

More contemporary stories are needed for Jewish children facing these issues to provide them "mirrors and role models," Grannick said.

"The diet industry and weight stigma are strong, but you can be strong, too," Grannick said.

Here are five tips:
1. Love your children and let them know their value, strengths, character, problems, accomplishments, and dreams have no connection to body size.

2. Notice , Educate, Advocate: Notice and comment on messages to diet, be thin, eat "good" instead of "bad" foods in commercials, books, movies, and more. Find and use the many HAES (Health At Every Size)-friendly resources online. Gather a small group of like-minded parents for parent-child book groups to read and discuss Reeni's Turn and other "body positive" books, such as Chris Baron's All of Me , a story from a 13- year-old Jewish boy's perspective.

3. Support movement as enjoyable and health-focused rather than for the purpose of weight loss.

4. Reach out for support, education, and help for your own body and food issues. You can't get away with promoting positive body image if you're down on your own.

5. Protect: Make certain your pediatrician separates any eating problems and other health issues from weight. 


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