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Nichter, Mimi. Fat talk; what girls and their parents say about dieting.

Harvard Univ. Press. 266p. notes. index. c2000. 0-674-00681-X. $16.00. A

"Fat talk" is the term that Nichter uses to explore dialogues teen girls have regarding their weight and body image with peers as well as family members. Nichter's book examines why this negative talk is such a pervasive topic among young girls. She discusses possible theories for this including whether it is a way of fitting in, a learned behavior from their families, a desire to emulate standards put forth by the media or a mixture of all of these. Interestingly, the book asserts that this talk is more prevalent between Caucasian and Latina girls than their African American counterparts. Rather than trying to conform to an ideal, the latter group accentuates what they feel are their best, most attractive features.

Fat Talk came about from surveys and interviews conducted during the Teen Lifestyle Project, which was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. These interviews took place at three sites over a one-year period (a public high school and two community sites) and involved 70 Caucasian, Latina, and African American girls. A continuation of this study focused entirely upon African American girls, as their responses were markedly different from the two other groups. Following the survey and interview portion of the project, the girls attended a series of workshops conducted during times when school was not in session. These workshops featured several components related to the issue of body weight and its effect on teenage girls. These components were discussions of the role of media messages in their self-esteem and body image, fashion design and its effect on self-esteem, and a session on nutrition and exercise. Also included in this work are two appendices, one detailing the research strategy and one containing tables with data gleaned from the study, notes from the project, and an index. This work will prove to be most useful for parents, teachers, and counselors working with teenagers, as well as for libraries wanting more on the subject of teens and body image for their collection. Tricia Finch, Fruitville P.L., Sarasota, FL
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Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Finch, Tricia
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 2002
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