Good Girls Don’t Get Fat by Robyn Silverman

Posted October 26, 2010 by Meoskop in Book Reviews, Nonfiction, Other, Social Sciences / 7 Comments

young white girl in writes title on chalkboard over and overAre you a girl?
Are you the parent, grandparent, friend, teacher or caregiver of a girl?
Do you know any girls?

Go ahead and buy Good Girls Don’t Get Fat. (You might even couple it with another fairly recent release, The Hundred Year Diet by Susan Yager.) Reading Dr. Silverman’s guide on helping children avoid eating disorders is like a window into your own damaging programming. In America, we do equate size with value. In a human, the lowest possible volume has the highest value. It’s good to be hungry, it’s good to be unhealthy if you can show the right silhouette. Good Girls Don’t Get Fat points out how this message is turned into self hatred by young women every day. Nothing tastes as good as chasing the approval of others is supposed to feel.

Dr. Silverman points out things the average person might not consider. If a father praises a stepmother with a different figure than the mother, a child sharing that body type hears that she is unattractive. In her mind, her mother’s appearance and her own are tied together. Her stepmother’s physical type replaces her mother’s as an ideal to strive for. If a mother talks about her own weight concerns, the child adopts those as her own as well. An unthinking comment about outgrown clothing can be twisted into a message that the child needs to lose weight. Even the natural weight gains of puberty, the puppy fat years, are made undesirable by the increase in images of undersized tween starlets.

Plain white background with title above in red and Slenderville Cola bottle cap in red and white on bottom
Dr. Silverman’s book is easy to use, practical and so very important to understanding how our attempts to foster a positive body image can occasionally be the cause of the child forming a negative one. Really, the only thing Dr. Silverman does not cover is how to model healthy body image if a parent is morbidly obese. Not every parent reading will be able to model body acceptance or healthy weight control.

Reading Good Girls Don’t Get Fat reminded me of The Hundred Year Diet in that both deal with artificial media images causing real health concerns. For the former, it’s beauty images. For the latter it’s scare tactics. Every diet under the sun has it’s roots in an earlier diet that didn’t really work for that generation either. Long before America actually had a weight crisis, it believed it had one and manufactured chemical food substitutes to answer a weight concerned market. Without fad dieting, there is no diet cola. While Good Girls Don’t Get Fat has only a minor flaw, The Hundred Year Diet is a less perfect read. It’s information is also compact and usefully categorized, but it fails to feel as vital. Taken together they’re the perfect tools helping your tween understand how the diet industry teaches her to hate her body.


7 responses to “Good Girls Don’t Get Fat by Robyn Silverman

  1. I think I need to read this book. And I think Dr Silverman’s comments can equate not just to weight but to self esteem in general. A child’s psyche is to fragile…

    Thank you meoskop!

  2. Thank you for the great review, Meoskop! Yes, orannia, I agree, that the information you read in Good Girls Don’t Get Fat equate to more than just body image– it’s about self worth, confidence, and the ability to see someone for their strengths rather than what society frames as weaknesses.

    The more we can engage in these kinds of conversations and the more we can get the information highlighted in Good Girls Don’t Get Fat out to parents, educators, and anyone who touches the lives of girls, the more we’ll ensure that girls thrive despite negative messages about weight and size.

    Again, many thanks. Orannia, can’t wait to hear what you think of the book– and others who read this review as well! Please stop by my website and let me know your thoughts.

    Warm regards,
    Dr. Robyn

  3. Thank you, Meoskop, for recommending “The Hundred Year Diet.” I wrote the book in order to illustrate that all fad diets are the same – very low calorie starvation plans – simply masquerading as something else. “Don’t let anyone, not your physician, not your best friend, not anyone! tell you not to go on this diet” – is often part of the introduction. In other words, you are an insider and part of a special group. I really appreciate that you have suggested the book for adolescents. Peer pressure, body image concerns, and hormonal changes can make fad diets of all types even more dangerous at this stage, and certainly do absolutely nothing to teach good nutritional habits. To learn more about the book, you can visit the website:

  4. Hey, this comment has nothing to do with your review – I just followed the link over from a comment you made at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.

    I just wanted to thank you for making the point that Purity’s Passion was not representative of all romance during the 70s.

  5. jinap – Thanks. I am actually not sure how to approach that conversation.

    It frustrates me that we who love the genre can’t make the distinctions between romance, erotica and ‘out there’ even today. Sometimes it feels like it was easier to do so then.

  6. In 2000, I wrote ‘Largely Happy’ a book which (siting all the research) said pretty much the same thing as Robyn’s book. In 2004 I followed it with ‘Happy Kids, Healthy Kids’ (I wanted to cal it ‘Largely Happy Kids’ but Random House didn’t agree 🙂 once more showing parents how damaging it is to hold a certain body type as ‘perfect’ and their own child as less so.
    We are all working together to change people’s minds about their bodies and I heartily applaud Robyn for publishing ‘Good girls’