Cole Kazdin combines memoir and narrative nonfiction in her upcoming book, What’s Eating Us: Women, Food, and The Epidemic of Body Anxiety. It’s an excellent reflection of life with an eating disorder. But it’s also much more. For example, Kazdin investigates aspects of the weight loss industry. She also dives into common emotions most women feel about their bodies. It’s a multi-faceted and thought-provoking book.
Like many women, I started worrying about my body at a young age. Most of my thoughts began as comments from my mother—either about her body or mine. Kazdin’s perspective on her body led her to disordered eating behaviors. While mine didn’t lead me down that path, I know many women who have experienced this. And most are still dealing with it every day, as Kazdin explains.
I hoped to better understand the situation by reading What’s Eating Us. And that’s precisely what Kazdin delivered. Now I know more about eating disorders’ mental and emotional aspects, which many people don’t readily share with others. I also learned about the sorry state of treatment options. Kazdin repeatedly reminds us that women die because of eating disorders while explaining how casually they’re treated in the mental health community. It’s chilling.
In addition, Kazdin clarifies the thin lines between wellness, weight loss, body image, and eating disorders. This topic made me increasingly aware of these topics in my own life. For example, a 70-year-old woman centers her food conversations on what is and isn’t healthy. Presented with a delicious meal, she worries about eating too many carbs instead of enjoying the meal and the company. And every day, I hear at least one woman bemoan the shape and size of her body.
Kazdin reminds us how constant the media’s messages about body image are. That doesn’t even count what social media “influencers” post. Through it all, she retains humor with a hearty side dose of snarky comments. The lightness is necessary since the topic regularly veers into sadder moments.
What’s Eating Us isn’t a book readers are meant to enjoy. Instead, you’ll think deeply about your body, meals, and how women are negatively impacted by the ever-present message that they aren’t good enough. I appreciate Kazdin for delving into the topic with such grace and clarity.
Pair with Girls on the Brink: Helping Our Daughters Thrive in an Era of Increased Anxiety, Depression, and Social Media by Donna Jackson Nakazawa. Together, the two books can save lives.
Thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press / St. Martin’s Essentials, and the author for a digital advanced reader’s copy in exchange for this honest review. The expected publication date for this book is March 7, 2023.