Laurie Halse Anderson's newest book has created a controversy: people are worried that it will hurt you.
Anderson's previous books have dealt with serious subject matter such as date rape and slavery. Her newest book, Wintergirls, is about anorexia. It is getting fantastic reviews, and has already been nominated for the Young Adult Library Service Associations' list of Best Books for Young Adults. Despite this, Wintergirls is already being challenged.
Some people are concerned that the book could serve as a "how-to" manual for teens who may become anorexic. Does a book have the power to make you do something that's bad for you?
Anderson has a gift for speaking to teens in an honest voice about subjects that are often avoided. She wrote the book, which is heavily researched, after her readers started telling her about their eating disorders.
In a podcast in this review, Anderson says that she submitted Wintergirls to experts and asked about the possibility of it being a "trigger" that will cause people to develop eating disorders. They told her that our culture "glamorizes" eating disorders, and that actions as simple as watching TV or reading a magazine can be triggers. Anderson notes, "the challenge in the book they felt I had met was to show the entire story. And there's nothing glamorous or lovely about an eating disorer - it's horror."
Another reviewer defends the book: "Teens today are flooded with images that promote a negative body image. This is often linked with a message of success, beauty, control. . . . Laurie Halse Anderson’s exquisite novel provides a better understanding of the disease."
Meanwhile, the editor of the UK Vogue has (shockingly) denounced major fashion houses for promoting underweight models. She says that the overseas Vogue goes so far as to retouch models to look bigger!
For more information on anorexia and other eating disorders, have a look at the site for the Calgary Eating Disorder Program, the Canadian Mental Health Association, or the National Eating Disorder Information Centre. You can also check out the book Going Hungry.
What do you think? Can Wintergirls cause teens to develop anorexia? Is the fashion world at fault for the larger problem?