100th Review–Fat Talk: Parenting in the Age of Diet Culture

Before I get into the review of this amazing book, drum roll . . . . this is the 100th review I’ve posted since starting Reading While Fat at the beginning of 2021! To celebrate, I’d like to give away a copy of Fat Talk, because I think it’s such an important book. To enter the giveaway, please comment on the blog or one of the Facebook or Twitter posts about this book that you’d like to enter the drawing by Tuesday, April 25, 2023 (its publication day) at 5 pm and I’ll randomly draw one name from those who have commented and send a copy of Fat Talk to you!

Fat Talk: Parenting in the Age of Diet Culture (coming April 25, 2023) by Virginia Sole-Smith is yet another book that I wish I had written. It turns out the author is a member of an anti-diet parenting FB group that I’m in, but I did not know her or that she was a member of the group before I read the book and posted about it there. I did obtain a free e-copy of the book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sole-Smith has seamlessly combined reporting on research that cuts through the anti-fat conventional wisdom on fatness and health, reporting on personal anecdotes and interviews, and practical parenting advice into a book that I wish had been available when I started parenting nearly 20 years ago.

She first breaks down how weight and health are not actually synonymous and gives parents the information they need to counter the diet culture we are steeped in.

We do not question “fat is bad” because that is the premise built into everything we do.

Virginia Sole-Smith, Fat Talk: Parenting in the Age of Diet Culture

Sole-Smith talks about thin privilege and the anti-fat bullying that is a part of so many fat kids’ lives, and how parents’ desires to protect their kids from such bullying that they experienced themselves, or anticipate will happen to their kids, leads them to teach their kids that anything is better than being fat, internalizing anti-fatness and entrenching diet culture even more. Her writing is honest and real and I hope will lead thoughtful parents to really think about how they talk about their own and their kids’ bodies. There is an entire chapter about talking to pediatricians and how to deal with the growth charts that have become a ubiquitous part of nearly every doctor’s visit.

. . . the belief that “thin” is an achievable goal for all is also toxic because the thin ideal is also a white and heteronormative ideal. When we strive for thinness, we’re reinforcing every other form of stigma at the same time.

Virginia Sole-Smith, Fat Talk: Parenting in the Age of Diet Culture

This book is comprehensive! The next section is about diet culture at home, including family dinners, issues with snacks and sugar (including intuitive eating approaches) and how fathers have more recently been affected by diet culture (think the whole “dad-bod” discussion). Finally, she writes about finding body autonomy in our anti-fat world, including ideas for teachers to make their classrooms more safe for fat kids, the anti-fatness inherent in team sports, how we talk about puberty and how weight gain for teenagers as they mature into young adults should be normalized and is not something to be feared.

One more quote:

You may also worry that by talking about fatphobia, you’ll teach your kids fatphobia. On this front, I can assure you: They already know. Studies show that kids start to equate fat bodies with negative traits between the ages of three and five. They need to hear your counternarrative to know that’s not true.

Virginia Sole-Smith, Fat Talk: Parenting in the Age of Diet Culture

The entire book is brilliant! It’s another necessary addition to any fat-positive, anti-diet culture library, and would be an excellent choice for a reading discussion group.

2 thoughts on “100th Review–Fat Talk: Parenting in the Age of Diet Culture

  1. My mother very rarely ate with us when I was growing up because she was always on a diet of some sort and she wasn’t eating the same food as the rest of the family. Eating with my kids was an important goal for me when I became a parent. If I was concerned about my weight, I might eat less but I didn’t make a big deal of it. Unfortunately, I still taught my kids that weight mattered in other ways. I’m proud that one of daughters decided to just not even have a scale in her house. Definitely a topic that should be discussed more


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