Our culture has had a long standing and complicated relationship with food, exercise, and appearance. This makes feeling comfortable in your own skin harder than it need be and sometimes impossible.We haven’t always kept stats, but we do now. According to estimates, some 30 million Americans will struggle with full-blown anorexia or bulimia. Millions more will battle body image issues that have untold negative impacts on their lives. Any time of year is an opportunity to put the spotlight on these issues and join in, to be curious, think about and devise solutions. 

Due to stigma and old stereotypes, many people don’t get the support they deserve.  To shed light on this problem National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is February 25 to March 3, 2019.   All that can be done is welcomed to jump start the conversation and help raise awareness, bust myths, get people screened, and start journeys to healing.  

There’s a new novel of note that deals with the issues of eating disorders prior to treatment options, before eating disorders became the familiar terms of today’s vocabularies.   17 Dresses’ was written by Southern California writer, author Pamela Klein. Given nearly half of all youth have eating disorders or disordered eating, the book is not her daughter’s story but was inspired by the author’s own daughter. As a 5’9″ model she was told to lose weight in her hips and thighs and this began a sickness that brought her from 130 lbs. to under 100 lbs. The author wanted to explore the way vintage dresses were made to celebrate ‘real women’ curves and all. Writing this book gave her daughter sanctuary in these old dresses, according to Klein.

From Amazon:  “In the generation shortly before eating disorders are diagnosed and treated, Paulette quietly starves, heaves and cuts herself. Built like a ’50s pin-up girl with a pleading pout, she detests herself and even though she lives for beauty, she cannot see her own. She takes sanctuary in the secondhand dresses scored in thrift and vintage shops, a world of storied fabrics and a beacon for something meaningful beyond the California ideal that surrounds and often suffocates her. 

At 15, Paulette is a rocket heading straight into mid 1970’s space. She has so little guidance and yet quite a lot of good fortune. Luckily she has a grandmother who relates to Paulette in the language of old clothing. And then there is her on-again, off-again romance with the semiotician Benjamin, who unzips more than a figure of speech. Over the course of seventeen years and seventeen vintage dresses, each frock tells a delicate tale, uttering significance and inspiring Paulette’s transformation from girl, to gal to grown. 

Part coming of age, part homage to the rousing world of vintage, 17 Dresses is a haute and haunting glance at the suffering that comes from not wanting to “fit in” to anything but that venerable dress in the window.”

The author Pamela Klein will be reading from her book and signing copies at Aum & Garden, Sunday, January 27, 2019, 3pm to 5pm. Address: 13363 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423, Phone: (818) 788-3400