“Your body image is the way you think about your own body and how accurately you see your body for what it really looks like,” explains the author in her new book. Bartell, a psychologist, has more than fifteen years’ experience helping teens, especially girls, deal with their bodies and the changes that occur during adolescence. Her previous books include Stepliving for Teens and Mommy or Daddy: Whose Side Am I On? The teen years can be difficult for everyone, and many adolescent girls worry about their weight; Bartell brings this subject to the forefront in a matter-of-fact and, at times, humorous way.
The book’s subtitle indicates the author’s “easy, fun” approach. With chapter titles like “Help! I’m Not Just Growing Up, I’m Growing Out!,” “It’s All in Your Genes … and I Don’t Mean the Five-Pocket Kind,” and “On a Diet … Off a Diet—The Rocky Road to a Not-So-Healthy Body,” any teens looking for help losing weight or understanding their bodies will find this book friendly and enjoyable.
Bartell includes partial letters from real girls who have had weight and self-esteem issues. Amanda (age fifteen) writes that she recently saw a photograph of herself at age eleven and now she thinks she is huge in comparison. Teshia (also fifteen) says she tried on jeans that she’d worn before and they won’t fit now. She thinks she’s enormous. Tara writes that when she is with a friend who is thin, she feels even bigger, and so dreads spending time with her.
Helpful hints on how to begin losing weight and start exercising are given in an easy and practical manner. Bartell never fusses or preaches at girls who don’t exercise or who “slip” every once in a while.
The book contains quizzes to help readers discover the knowledge they already possess and some of the fallacies they cling to. One of the quizzes on body type includes true/false statements such as, “People often use the word ‘athletic’ to describe my body.” These quizzes bring to light many of the misunderstandings girls have about their bodies. Bartell uses the color pink when emphasizing a point, simultaneously emphasizing that the work is intended for girls. (She explains in the beginning of the book that although boys also have weight issues, her training and interest is with adolescent girls.)
The author brought twelve teenage girls together as an advisory group when she was writing this book. The girls tell their own story of struggles with weight and self-esteem. Bartell encourages readers to email her with any suggestions they might have concerning exercise, talking to parents, and weight-control issues. A section of contact professionals and organizations is also included. Thanks to Bartell, teenagers (and adults, too) will lose weight, learn a lot, and feel good about themselves—while having fun.