This blog post marks the first of our Body Image Series. As an embodiment-focused brand, we think it’s absolutely necessary for us to share lessons, tools, perspectives and stories in addressing how we perceive and relate to our bodies. So, through the IMBŌDHI Blog platform we will be sharing a variety of articles, stories and/or interviews that touch upon this topic which we strongly believe needs to be acknowledged and discussed more than ever before.
An Interview with Natalie Grigson: Author of Call Me Perfect — a book for kids addressing self-acceptance and body image.
Today’s post is an interview we had with Natalie Grigson. Grigson works as an author and illustrator in Austin, Texas. She is the author of such books as the Peter Able series, The Woods, Matthew Templeton and the Enchanted Journal, and Just Call Me Is. Read on to learn why we found it was important to interview this brilliant writer for our Body Image series.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve just finished a new book – the sequel to my mindfulness for kids book, Just Call Me Is.This book, Call Me Perfect, focuses on body image and self-acceptance for kids and teenagers. For the past few weeks, I’ve been working on a Kickstarter to help fund the book’s publication. It’s…a lot of work.
Why did you start this project?
I decided to write this book because of my own struggles with body image. When I was about 12, I started to equate my self-worth with how I looked – which is when I started dieting. Adding in a lack of understanding of my own emotions, and having no idea how to cope with them, by the time I was 13, I was starting down the path of an eating disorder.
After years of disordered eating, then yo-yo dieting, and finally, for the most part, accepting myself and my relationship with my body and food – I understand how challenging all of this can be. I want to help kids who are already struggling with this, and those who aren’t, so they never have to.
What can you tell us about the book?
Just like the first book in the series, Call Me Perfectis for kids anywhere from about 9 to 15. It’s written tothe reader in a journal littered with pictures and images – as though the reader has just stumbled upon this book.
It starts with the story of a girl named Margery, who, like many 12-year-olds, is ashamed of her body and begins a diet – which quickly escalates. We’re with her on her journey through all of this, through getting help, and ultimately, how she learns to love herself.
The second half of the book is made up of exercises, journal pages, meditations for body acceptance, and some fun games parents and kids can play together, all to help support a healthy body image.
Why do you believe it is important to address body image in a children's book?
Like I said, when I started being aware of dieting, I was about 11 or 12. But these days, I hear horror stories of it starting so much younger – especially in young girls.
When I was teaching, I was working with kids as young as 5-8. I remember some of these kids already discussing openly how much they “hated their bodies” because they were “too fat.” It was heartbreaking.
It’s important for these kids to know, not only are their bodies okay and to be loved, but that usually when they’re hating on their bodies – it’s not about their bodies at all, but something else. So it’s a tool to help them point out and then cope with their emotions.
What do you hope to see change in regards to our world's current issues around body image?
Oh my god – so much! We’re living in this insane time, right now, where Photoshop and visual effects are only getting better. I’d love to see more magazines and fashion brands opt not to use these effects on their models – and in fact, use more realistic depictions of the everyday woman or man (or anyone in between!) I’m talking healthy and happy bodies—be they large, tiny, tall, wrinkly, cellulite-y, short, round, thin—whatever the body type.
I think changing the way we see bodies and talk about bodies every day in the media is a great start. (No more body shaming photos; no more headlines like “Best Bikini Bods!”. I think a change in the media could be huge.
I’d also love to see parents start at a young age not praising their children for how they look – but for who they are.
How can we support your journey on spreading awareness of changing people's perspectives toward their own bodies?
Right now I feel like you’re catching me when I have complete tunnel vision! As anyone who’s done a crowdfunding campaign will tell you – they sort of take over your life for a while. So, of course, my immediate answer is: You can back and share the Kickstarterin order to get this book published and into the hands of kids!
In the long-term, though, here’s what you can do, starting right now: If you’ve ever had an issue with your body (and that is the majorityof the people reading this, so you’re not alone!) please do me a favor. Give yourself a break. Give your bodya break. It’s working so hard just to keep you moving and doing the things you love. It’s doing a kickass job.
And if you think it could use a reminder, you can try this exercise from Call Me Perfect:
- Write your body a letter, telling it how much you appreciate it, thanking it, apologizing to it – whatever you need to say.
- Then, write a letter to yourself from your body on how it feels it has been treated by you and the world.
There are lots of exercises like this in the book – but this is a powerful little freebie to start. I hope it helps. It sure helped me. ☺
What’s next for you?
Once the madness that is this Kickstarter is over, I’ll be working on the illustrations for this book, and hopefully focusing more on working directly with kids – talking mindfulness, body image, and self-love, in small, supportive groups. I’ll also be finishing another book, the third in my (fiction) Peter Able series. You can find out more about all of my books at: www.NatalieGrigson.com.
To support Natalie's Kickstarter campaign, Click HERE.