This is a guest post from Alyson Gerber, author of Taking Up Space.
We have a problem.
By 8 years old, 50% of kids want to be thinner. And more than a year into the pandemic, when many kids have experienced food trauma and changes to their bodies during lockdown, this problem is more urgent than ever.
Taking Up Space is a chance to open up an honest conversation about body image, diet culture, and self-worth. It’s a place to start talking about this important topic.
This story, about a basketball player struggling to feel good about her body and herself, will help kids challenge the conflicting and confusing messages they are receiving about food, bodies, and what makes them worthy. It will allow them to feel seen and heard. Taking Up Space is a book about sports, friendship, family, and a cooking competition. And about how we learn to love ourselves and speak up for what we need as we change and grow. It will give readers the chance to recognize that their pain is real, even if it isn’t as big as someone else’s, even if there isn’t a name for it, even if they’ve been told it’s normal.
I wrote Taking Up Space from my own pain. I wanted to show kids that they matter.
For most of my life, I didn’t value myself. What I ate and how I felt in my body, took up all the space in my mind. I was stuck in a cycle of disordered eating — compulsive dieting, binging, and restricting — that I thought was normal, because it has become common. I wrote Taking Up Space because I felt alone in this experience, when I wasn't. The majority of people are struggling with food, body image, and self-worth. We need to work together to change that now. Our health depends on it. Let’s start by reading and talking.
I hope you will make this topic a priority in your classroom, library, and school.
Thank you for everything you do to support kids.
- Alyson Gerber
Taking Up Space is available for purchase now at your preferred retailer.
Alyson Gerber is the author of the critically acclaimed middle grade novels, Braced; Focused; and Taking Up Space. She is a graduate of The New School’s MFA in Writing for Children and lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and daughter. Visit her at alysongerber.com and find her everywhere else at @alysongerber.