Whether you have a child or know of children 12 and under who are unhappy “feeling fat”, Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Breaking the “I Feel Fat” Spell, by Andrea Wachter, LMFT and Marsea Marcus, LMFT, will help them develop a more loving, accepting view of their bodies. I was delighted to find out about this book, wishing that my clients who are dissatisfied with their body size would have had something like it growing up. Heck, I wish that I had read this book as a chubby, thin-obsessed child back in the Fifties!
The idea of a spell being cast on young children is apt. People who are under a spell don’t realize it until the spell gets broken. In this case the thin-is-beautiful and fat-is-ugly spell is cast by culture, the media, our families, and our peers, unbeknownst to us at a young age. The book leads off with a “once upon a time” fairy tale of how a wicked witch cast a spell on young children because she was lonely and wanted attention, pointing out that some children became spellbound and some didn’t.
The rest of the book lays out 22 spell breakers to stop children from thinking and talking about their bodies (and others) in negative ways because of size. Here are a few of my favorite spell breakers:
- Recognizing that fat is not a feeling (happy, sad, and angry are feelings)
- Choosing the power of positive thinking or what the authors call a “quiet” mind which is simply noticing things about our bodies without judging them
- Opting out of comparing our bodies to those of other people
- Ending bullying yourself via negative, unkind self-comments
- Understanding where and how your unaccepting feelings about your body started
- Avoiding body talk with others which involves listening to people complain about their bodies or speaking unkindly about the bodies of others
- Gradually moving to an acceptance of all your body parts
- Imagining what it would be like to be free of negative body thoughts
At the end of each chapter are thoughtful questions meant to help young readers reflect on what they’ve read. The book is easy to read, has simple graphics breaking up the text, and uses age-appropriate language. The authors note that Mirror, Mirror could be read in one sitting, but that children would get more out of it by focusing on one chapter at a time. I also suspect that adults with negative feelings about their size who are reading this book to children will learn a lot from it about how to accept their bodies.