I read a book that’s aimed at women, mothers, and young women. And it’s a book that should be read by men, fathers, and young men.
It’s a book about women and their attitudes about their bodies, before, during and after – even long after – their pregnancies. It’s about the culture we live in, and what it tells women they should think about their bodies. It’s about what women will do to meet those cultural expectations. And it’s about a different path women (and men, indirectly) can take, and likely should take.
Mom in the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty, and Life After Pregnancy, by Dena Cabrera and Emily Wierenga, is the book. It’s important to read. I learned things I didn’t know, about my own mother, my wife, and my daughter-in-law.
“We live in a society that demonizes fat,” they write; “meanwhile, we are more overweight than ever before. Every day at least ten million women deny themselves acceptance and love by abusing food in some way, shape, or form. Clearly, something is wrong.”
Something is wrong, and it’s not a simple fix. Cabrera and Wierenga walk the reader through the complexities, which can include eating disorders, the influence of a woman’s own mother, anxiety, the changes a woman’s body experiences, the demands of pregnancy and childrearing, the stages a woman’s body goes through from childhood to adulthood, competitiveness with other women, balancing marriage with motherhood, and many other aspects. And they offer encouragement, guidance, and resources on how to get help.
And their underlying message is itself about encouragement and hope: learn to love, starting with yourself.
Cabrera is a licensed clinical psychologist and eating disorder specialist, working at the Rosewood Centers for Eating Disorders in Wickenburg, Arizona. Wierenga is a married mother of two living in Canada, who battled anorexia and told her story in Chasing Silhouettes. (I reviewed Chasing Silhouettes here and did a two-part interview with Emily for The High Calling and here.)
Mom in the Mirror is a book whose time is now. Women and mothers need it. So do men and fathers.
Photograph by George Hodan via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.