Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Radical Hateloss Q & A with Diana Spechler; author of the novel Skinny and creator of BodyConfessions.com

Today’s blog post is a Q&A with writer, Diana Spechler. Diana is an author of Skinny, a novel that tackles body image issues. In addition to her novel, she has started the website bodyconfessions.com that offers visitors the ability to anonymously post confessions about their bodies. Without further adieu... the Q&A!



Can you tell me more about your book, Skinny & where someone can buy it?


In the aftermath of her Orthodox Jewish father's death, twenty-six-year-old Gray Lachmann finds herself compulsively eating. Desperate to stop bingeing, she abandons her life in New York City for a job at a southern weight-loss camp. There, caught among the warring egos of her devious co-counselor Sheena, the self-aggrandizing camp director Lewis, his attractive assistant Bennett, and a throng of combative teenage campers, she is confronted by a captivating mystery: her teenage half-sister Eden, whom Gray never knew existed. Now, while unraveling her father's lies, Gray must tackle her own self-deceptions and take control of her body and her life. The novel illuminates a young woman's struggle to make sense of the inextricable link between hunger and emotion, and to make peace with her demons, her body, and herself.


You can buy it wherever books are sold! Here are some links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, Indie Bound.

I was struck by the words in the trailer for your book, “I thought about hunger and love and about how often the two are indistinguishable.” I absolutely get it personally, but can you elaborate on it for my readers?

SKINNY is about longing—longing for food, longing for another person—and about how different kinds of longing can get mixed up in a person’s mind. The protagonist, Gray, starts binge-eating after her father dies. It’s part of her grieving process. When she leaves her boyfriend for another man, one who doesn’t love her back, she starts starving herself.

I’ve had similar experiences. I’ve been in relationships that leave me hungry and others that make me feel full. I’ve seen couples gain weight together or train for marathons together. More than once, I’ve stopped eating for a stretch just before leaving someone. Food and affection are basic, universal needs, and sometimes the line between them gets blurry.

How has your own body image and relationship evolved?

Writing SKINNY was therapeutic. It certainly didn’t cure me, but it opened me up. Amazingly, that openness translated to a better grip on my hunger and satiety and a greater acceptance of my body.

I have noticed through my writing on this blog that the word Skinny seems to evoke powerful emotions, one way or another- what are your thoughts on the word?

Women are never supposed to admit that they want to be skinny. “Thin”—okay. “Fit”—great. “Healthy”—even better. But plenty of women secretly want to be skinny, so we say things like, “She’s way too skinny,” or, “I would never want to be skinny.” That is really interesting to me. It reminds me of when men say, “I don’t want to sleep with everyone.” Often, what that means is, “I do want to sleep with everyone, but I don’t want anyone to know that.”

Why did you start Body Confessions?

When I was writing SKINNY, a novel full of characters with eating disorders, body image issues, and unhealthy relationships with food, I kept suffering writers’ block. I was afraid to write honestly about my characters’ problems because I didn’t want readers to make assumptions about me. Every time I attempted a scene, it sounded hollow. I kept writing and cutting, writing and cutting.

One of the first fiction-writing rules I ever learned was, “Write what you know,” and here I was, trying to write about my characters’ problems as if I knew nothing about them. But of course I knew about body image issues. I’d had them most of my life.

Finally, I had to reckon with myself: If I didn’t access my own issues with food and the body, I would never write this book well. I chose writing over fear. I started leaking my body secrets, attributing them to my fictional characters—“confessing,” in a sense. I was shocked to find that it made me feel better, unburdening me of my shame. I wanted to give that gift back to the world. And so Body Confessions was born.

What insights have you gained from the posts you have received on the site?
The confessions don’t surprise me, but of course, many break my heart. Just today, someone posted, “I’m physically, emotionally, and mentally tired because my mind is never silent!” I wanted to reach into my computer and give that person a hug.

Just as I suspected, a lot of people out there are suffering silently at the hands of food and their bodies..

What message do you wish to communicate most to women?

Tell the truth. Don’t limit yourself to socially acceptable statements about your body (i.e. “I love myself the way I am”). It’s okay not to love yourself the way you are, but it’s problematic to pretend that you’re okay when you aren’t. Speak up. You might be helping someone else more than you know.
Thanks you Diana for taking your time for this Radical Hateloss Q&A and for having the courage to honestly explore your own beliefs about your body and in turn creating opportunities for other women to do the same!

Many times just the simple acknowledgement of our beliefs, our thoughts, and our emotions- is enough to take away their power. Keeping them inside allows us to continue to identify with those beliefs as if they are us, when in reality our authentic selves know nothing less than the fact that we are whole and that our wholeness is independent from the aesthetics of our physical body. As women the more we come together and speak about our feelings in regards to our bodies, the more we can collectively help each other and begin to change the entire culture around this issue in our society.

Diana has sent me a copy of, Skinny to give to one lucky reader of Radical Hateloss! The winner will be selected randomly from those who comment on this post and like or comment on the link to the post on FaceBook.

Please be sure to check out bodyconfessions.com and Diana’s website, dianaspechler.com


Quote:

“I hate everything about my body and often feel guilty because I think I should be thankful I even have a body that functions the way it should. I have no missing limbs, no diseases, no ACTUAL faults. I'm tired and exhausted of hating my blessed body!”

- the most popular confession on bodyconfessions.com



As sad as this quote seems, its full of hope! Women understand that the way they feel about their bodies is not in alignment with what they know deep down to be true, creating dissonace. Dissonance is the first step to change, without it their is no motivation. Womankind is ripe and ready for positive transformation, I for one am happy to be a part of a movement that is doing the work towards that positive change!


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P.S.


A coach sees the potential in others and helps them bring it out. A coach helps others to push pass the self imposed limits they have placed on themselves. A coach follows their experience, instincts and intuition. A coach helps others embrace their talents as well as their weakness. I am a coach…this is what I was born to do whether its in the gym, in my profession life coaching practice or in relationship with people in my life.

1 comment:

Stephanie Vincent said...

Congrats to Amber H. for winning a copy of Skinny!