Ten percent of American women between the ages of 25 and 45 suffer from an eating disorder. This is a startling statistic, but not as shocking as the fact that THREE OUT OF FOUR women in the United States exhibit disordered eating behaviors, demonstrated through an unhealthy relationship with food and/or their bodies. Having struggled with anorexia at varying levels of severity since I was fifteen years old, I am no stranger to this tumultuous battle with food and body image, and pregnancy—with the inevitable body transformations it entails—has done little to squelch the internal voices insisting that my food choices and the shape of my body determine my personal worth. I am not the first woman who has doubted herself during pregnancy (and motherhood!), and it is this nearly universal struggle that led authors Dena Cabrera and Emily T. Wierenga to write Mom in the Mirror, a book designed to help women find peace and self acceptance in the midst of pregnancy and young motherhood.
Drawing from Cabrera’s experience as an eating disorder expert, and Wierenga’s personal history with anorexia, Mom in the Mirror takes a holistic approach to eating disorders and body image. The authors offer statistics illuminating society’s warped views of dieting and the female figure, and they provide clinical data to help women evaluate the severity of their personal eating issues and body dysmorphia, and determine whether they need to seek a higher level of professional care.
But Wierenga and Cabrera go beyond the numbers and diagnoses to encourage and support women as they navigate the changes occurring within their bodies, minds, and hearts as they traverse the often perilous journey into motherhood. Through the use of stories (the authors’ own, as well as those of numerous other women), uplifting quotes, Scripture, and even poetry, Mom in the Mirror guides women as they learn to nourish their bodies and souls, accept their evolving roles as mothers and wives, and learn to appreciate, care for, and love their bodies for what they can do, and not just how they look. Each chapter concludes with practical tools for recovery, as well as soul-searching questions designed to take the reader beyond the theoretical and into the personal.
Throughout Mom in the Mirror, Wierenga and Cabrera rely on the words of other inspirational women (from Nora Ephron to Anne Lamott) to illustrate and enhance their message; surprisingly, this was one of my biggest qualms with their book. If you’ve spent any time on my blog, you know that I am a huge fan of quotes, but I found the overabundance of quotes in Mom in the Mirror to be somewhat distracting; I would have liked to hear more from the authors themselves, and less from the bloggers, celebrities, and motivational speakers who have inspired them. (That’s not to say these other women don’t have wonderful messages to share, just that this book is not the place for them.)
This minor hang-up aside, Mom in the Mirror is an encouraging book with an important message for ALL women—particularly those with eating disorders, or those entering into motherhood, but honestly for every woman who has ever struggled with insecurity and self-doubt (which is most of us). Unfortunately, Mom in the Mirror suffers from the same flaw shared by all self-help books: it simply isn’t enough. Any book can promise to boost your self esteem, transform your relationship with your body, and illuminate your life’s purpose; and many books—like this one—can provide a strong first step toward achieving these lofty goals. But no book can serve as a substitute for the long and rigorous process of recovery. During my (almost) lifelong battle with anorexia, I’ve read my fair share of recovery-focused tomes, and though they’ve served as useful tools, not one has been able to “fix” me. True recovery, I’ve found, is sometimes grueling, and sometimes monotonous, but almost always rewarding. That said, Mom in the Mirror offered a necessary reminder that I am both deserving and capable of complete recovery; my life, and that of my son, depends on it!
My Book Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars