Thursday, April 30, 2009

Body Image Week: Compliments

Today I created a personal challenge for myself to compliment three strangers. I really thought this would be easy--I love thanking people, showing appreciation, and seeing the best in others. What I didn't count on: employee uniforms! 

I thought for sure I'd find someone at Barnes & Noble to compliment while my writing group met. I chatted with my favorite barista, but I couldn't honestly say anything like, "Great black employee uniform shirt." Later I struck up a conversation with a woman who had to see why I was going ga-ga over a book about really cute cupcakes (I do like to bake & frost!). She wore a flattering shade of fuchsia, but I knew it would sound really bizarre to interrupt our musing about doggie cupcakes to compliment her. It just didn't feel right.

The people at PetCo wore blue employee uniform shirts. I did thank the woman for not laughing when I attempted to sign my receipt with the credit card machine's plastic stylus, but, yeah, that doesn't really count.

I needed someone with a really cute haircut, a cool scarf, anything!

I didn't have high hopes when I dropped off my dry cleaning (my last errand of the day). But alas! The clerk wore a unique copper ring on her finger so I said, "Your ring is really beautiful." We ended up having a great talk about how she went to high school near the Kennecott Copper Mine back in the day. I found out that her father had worked at the nearby steel mill. We really connected! Yay!

Compliments can be really wonderful. But I do think they have to be genuine. We've all experienced that "cute outfit" compliment accompanied by a full body scan that indicates the speaker thinks you look atrocious. If I ever give you a compliment, please know that I really, truly mean it!

So I dare you: find a stranger to compliment. You never know what might happen! 


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Body Image Week Guest Nose: Leigh Brescia

I’m so excited to be hosting Leigh Brecia during the Body Image Challenge. Her wonderful debut One Wish really shows how girls can slip into disordered eating. I highly recommend this book for older middle-grade as well as YA readers.

Remember to check in at MyFavoriteAuthor today! One (or more) winners will be chosen tomorrow from all the comments made today.

My personal challenge for Thursday: compliment three strangers. Read how it goes tomorrow.

Okay, here’s what Leigh has to say about her own body image struggle:

In One Wish, Wrenn has to learn to love herself for who she is . . . a lesson that most of us could have benefited from in high school.

There are several things I don’t like about myself, but the battle with my hair is long-standing. In high school, I had *seriously* curly/kinky/frizzy hair. It was uncontrollable, so most of the time I kept it pulled back in a bun or a french twist. I tried *so many* different products to straighten and tame my hair, and nothing worked.

One day I decided to try a Dark and Lovely relaxer. (No, I am not the appropriate ethnicity for this product.) Still, I was actually surprised to find out that it worked. So . . . every two or three months, I would relax my hair. It didn’t get rid of all the problems, but it definitely tamed my frizzies.

I think I was a junior or senior in high school when this happened:

I went to the drugstore to pick up my Dark and Lovely (which I’ve gotten some *strange* looks over, let me tell you), and I saw this new straightening product for white people hair. I figure since I’m white that this will work better. I buy it. I use it. It sucks. It did absolutely nothing. So . . . a few days later I go get my usual Dark and Lovely relaxer.

Okay, there is a *reason* you are supposed to follow instructions: like *waiting* several weeks before you try to relax or color your hair again. Because after a few minutes, my hair started to smell funny . . . like it was literally burning off my head. I freaked out, and headed to the tub, but as I was rinsing I noticed that my hair was shedding more than usual.

Oh my gosh. . . . I prayed to Jesus that my hair would Not Fall Out. And I swore that if I could keep my hair I would *never* complain about it ever again.

My hair didn’t fall out, and I never saw any bald spots, but I did have some pretty bad split ends for a while.

I use a straightening iron now, so I don’t have to worry about crossing chemicals as much. I don’t use relaxers anymore, but I *always* follow instructions whenever I’m coloring my hair.

I might hate it, but I will definitely work with what I have.

Lesson learned. :)

About One Wish
Overweight Wrenn Scott desperately wants to be popular and snag a hot boyfriend. Her amazing voice (for once) overshadows her weight when she lands a lead role in the high school musical. Pushing to get thinner by opening night, Wrenn's waistline shrinks as she learns all the wrong ways to lose weight from a new "it-girl" friend in the show. By opening night, the old Wrenn has almost disappeared. After a crisis reveals her weight-loss tricks, Wrenn realizes there are much more important things than being thin, popular, or even dating a hunk. Buy one wish at here.

About Leigh Brescia
Leigh Brescia grew up in North Carolina, spending most of her days playing in the woods behind her home and imagining she was a princess. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Communication from Mount Olive College and her Master’s degree from Fort Hays State University. She currently teaches online English composition courses for three universities, and an online “Writing Novels for Young Adults” course for UC Irvine.

When she’s not grading papers or writing, she enjoys reading and watching movies. She sings when she’s in a good mood and has killed every plant she’s ever owned. She currently lives in North Carolina with her husband and her three-year-old. Read more about Leigh at

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Yikes! Television.

I started the Body Image Week Challenge doing something that I've been really afraid of: appearing on television. I'm known to avoid cameras so combining a camera with the potential to say something stupid…well, yikes!

Double yikes when the reporter asked me to bring high school photos. I hated the way I looked in high school! Reluctantly, I trudged down to my basement to find my old box of Reno High stuff. So many memories flooded my brain as I sifted through old pictures, notes, posters, newspaper clippings…. But the thing that struck me like a punch: I liked the way I looked. What had I been thinking? Why had I spent so much time and mental energy obsessing (negatively) over my appearance? I ran upstairs and called my mom. “Why did you let me hate my nose in high school?” I demanded. She was like, well, I tried. You’re pretty stubborn, blah, blah, blah.

Back to the interview: keeping the Body Image Challenge in mind, I looked at myself in the mirror yesterday morning and simply smiled. I refused to fret about my hair, makeup, weight, glasses, wardrobe or nose. I was just going to have fun.

And I did. Sure, I started out kind of nervous (there was this huge black camera looming in front of me). But like all good writing, television is edited. The best part turned out to be a surprise visit to The Cake and Flower Shoppe where I met my old boss. Even though I’d only worked there for three days, she remembered me and loved that I’d written a book inspired by that awful, awful day (I wrecked a delivery van and a wedding cake). We laughed about the whole thing!

So I guess the lesson for me (and maybe I’ll actually learn it this time) is this: things are never quite as bad as they seem when you’re mired in the moment. Turns out that bride got her cake in plenty of time!

Much thanks to Erin Breen at KTVN channel 2 in Reno! If you’d like to see the TV story click here. You can also read my guest post for the Body Image Week Challenge at

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

MyFavoriteAuthor: Body Image Week!

I am so excited to be joining MyFavoriteAuthor's Body Image Week! I will blogging about my own experience doing the Body Image Challenge and can't wait to read about yours! Check it all out at

The issue of body image and loving the skin that you're in is something that affects everyone in different ways and in different degrees. There are a lot of books recently or soon-to-be released that address various aspects of the issue. SpeedReader of MyFavoriteAuthor has organized a Body Image Week with many other bloggers and authors participating with book reviews, author interviews/guest posts/videos, a couple of challenges and a great book giveaway at the end.

So check them out today to see the full schedule of the week's events and where the various posts will be showing up around the blogosphere. And don't forget to accept the Body Image Challenge today! Everyone who accepts the challenge and reports back at the end of the week will be entered in the giveaway to win:

WINTERGIRLS (signed) by Laurie Halse Anderson

I will be guest posting on Tuesday!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Guest Nose: Deva Fagan

Fortune's Folly, while not a direct fairy tale retelling, involves a lot of fairy tale elements. And beauty is most definitely a theme in a lot of fairy tales. If you do a scan of Western European fairy tales (for example, those collected by the Brothers Grimm) you will find that "beautiful" or "handsome" is often used as shorthand for "good". And while there are exceptions (such as the beautiful but wicked queen in Snow White) it is often the case that those who are "ugly" are also "evil".

Since Fortune's Folly is partly about subverting and overturning certain fairy tale tropes, however, I did try to break that pattern. There are certainly beautiful or handsome characters who are goodly, but some of the villains are quite good-looking too, and not everyone who is ill-favored physically is necessarily evil.

Anyone interested in books that subvert some of the traditional conceptions of beauty in fairy tales might enjoy reading Robin McKinley's Rose Daughter, which puts quite a different spin on the story of Beauty and the Beast. And of course, there's always the movie Shrek!

More About Fortune’s Folly

Ever since her mother died and her father lost his shoemaking skills, Fortunata has survived by telling fake fortunes. But when she's tricked into telling a grand fortune for a prince, she is faced with the impossible task of fulfilling her wild prophecy-or her father will be put to death. Now Fortunata has to help Prince Leonato secure a magic sword, vanquish a wicked witch, discover a long-lost golden shoe, and rescue the princess who fits it. If only she hadn't fallen in love with the prince herself. . . . Buy your own copy here!

More About Deva Fagan

Deva likes searching for patterns, which is how she explains both her degree in mathematics and the echoes of old fairy-tales in her stories. She also loves tea, gardening, and playing the fiddle. She lives in Maine with her husband and her dog. Find out more about Deva at

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Perfection Is A Dirty Word

Just wanted to let you all know that I'm guest blogging on the Class of 2k9 site. I'm writing about perfectionism, a naughty, naughty word! And a bad, bad behavior. Check it out & if you comment, you'll be entered in a contest to win a signed copy of My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters.

Click here!