Pretty Girls Don’t Eat
Winter dreams of being a fashion designer. Her designing talent can’t be denied – but Winter believes that she will never get anywhere unless she is thin. The more compliments she gets for her weight loss, the more uncertain she feels about life, and what actually makes her a worthwhile person.
I wanted to love this novel. I was super excited about it from the moment that Ford Street emailed me to ask my opinion on which of three potential cover images would be the best. Turns out, the one I liked the most was also the one eventually chosen. I just found that this novel added very little to the host of teenage fiction around ‘fat girls’ and so forth. There’s several others that I have read, of which I just can’t remember the name of at the moment, and those would take my fancy first.
Winter moves very quickly from sick to acceptance, which I found very unlikely. People with eating disorders often find it hard to come back to a normal way of thinking. I think this novel shows the slippery slope of calory counting very clearly! The teenage brain is very impressionable. Winter doesn’t set out from thinking that starving herself is the answer. But then, it goes worse, because the boy she likes won’t recognise that she’s beautiful.
At the ending, it’s not clear to me about Winter… What did she do next? Is she really going to keep working on things? Will she fall back into bad habits? Give me more! How can those broken/repaired relationships ever be as strong as before? She seriously stepped on so many toes…
Honestly, with Christmas time coming up, I wonder whether novels like this actually make good presents. What if the (female) teenager has inner weight problems/doubts and this novel makes her think that you think she is fat? Maybe in a stack of other YA novels that cover a range of potential teenage problems, such as Caramel Hearts or Holding Up the Universe! I give this one 3 stars.
Ford Street | July 2017 | paperback
I was in two minds about whether to respond to this review. It’s not something that I have ever done before and, as a writer, it has to be expected that if you put a book out into the world not everyone is going to respond to it the way you would like them to. One of the joys of reading and writing is to share and experience different points of view and celebrate those diverse ways of looking at the world.
I do think, however, that we need to be careful about dismissing books about body image and weight as ‘fat girl’ stories. Winter’s relationship with her body is a complex one and I don’t think you can pretend that it’s easy for anyone to feel at ease in their body in a thin-centric, diet-obsessed culture. I wrote this book because we need to have more discussions about these issues and I also wanted to encourage young women, in particular, to think about weight in a different way – weight loss is not a gold ticket to happiness and neither is being thin. To say that this book might make girls feel bad about themselves and their weight goes against everything that motivated me to write this book and it also contradicts the feedback I’ve received from many young women who have told me this book inspired them to think more positively about their bodies, regardless of their dress size.
Of course, I understand that this book might not be for you. But I don’t think it’s fair to say it will reinforce ‘weight problems/doubts’ as I don’t think that is the case.
It is not often that I have an author drop by, so I’m honoured you took the time to comment. A 3 stars from me is actually quite good! I’m very stringent on my requirements for a fabulous novel.
I’d still recommend it.
I think though that it’s important that if you are considering getting it for someone as a gift, that you know your gift recipient well, or pair it with some other novels. I thoroughly agree with you that we need more positive discussions around women’s relationships with their bodies. I’m glad that the feedback you have received from other young women is very positive, because it proves that your novel is hitting good notes with an audience who needs it.
I look forward to more novels from you soon.