Author: Courtney E. Martin
Published: August 17, 2007
# of Pages: 359
Not so long ago, there was a stifling pressure to be a “good girl.” Today’s young women strive to be not merely good, but perfect, and that includes having the elusive, so-called perfect body. Especially disturbing is that self-loathing and preoccupation with image have become the rules instead of the exceptions, tolerated as necessary, inevitable parts of being female. This eye-opening look at twenty-first-century culture and its impact on our sisters, our daughters, and ourselves reveals how obsession with food and weight, driven in no small part by images of celebrities openly wasting away, threatens a new generation of girls as the feminist exhortation that “we can do anything” is twisted into “we must do everything.” It also inspires us to consider what wonderful things might happen – for ourselves and for the world – if we stopped the madness once and for all.
I was first made aware of the existence of Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters, via one of my favorite blogs – Feministing – as Ms. Martin is a contributor there. I have been wanting to read it since its publication in summer of ’07, but I am cheap and therefore waited until it came out in paperback late in ’08. I sort of regret waiting now that I’ve read it, because this is truly a phenomenal book. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Martin brings an intelligent, spot-on, and completely fresh analysis to the issues of eating disorders/disordered eating, body image, and self-esteem in young women. She seamlessly weaves true stories of women and girls she personally knows and/or met and interviewed for the purpose of writing the book with facts, statistics, and quotes from tons of other sources. Her research is meticulous, and the personal stories are interesting and compelling. Martin’s writing is also fantastic. I tore through this nonfiction book faster than I can read a lot of fiction – her writing flowed so well and the content was incredibly fascinating.
I read this book for Dewey’s Books challenge, and I’d definitely recommend popping over to her site to read some of her thoughts on this book. She broke her thoughts down individually by chapter, so I’m not going to link to all of them, but her reactions can easily be found either by archives, or by typing “Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters” into the search field. She highlighted a LOT of the most important aspects of this book, and was pretty extensive in her own reactions, so going through that was very helpful and interesting to me – definitely go check it out.
One more thing – if you read other reviews of the book, not everyone agrees with me about how fantastic it is. So, yeah, the book resonated with me and with my personal experiences. A lot. I do not have an eating disorder, but I have plenty of experience with disordered eating, feeling like crap about oneself, comparing oneself to others constantly, etc. Personally and otherwise. So I get it. I get what the book is saying and I truly related to the stories within it. That is most likely a large part of why I liked it so much. But regardless of your personal experiences, I believe Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters is a terrific read.
I absolutely, 100% cannot recommend this book enough. If you are female, and/or if you have a daughter, Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters is a MUST-read. Truly. This was one of the best non-fiction books I’ve read in a long time.
More reviews -