When a book character is eating in a book, just let her eat. Eating is fuel and it’s healthy and it’s normal. Don’t subject readers to YOUR internal dialogue reflecting disordered eating that you have been brainwashed by diet culture into thinking is normal. Let your characters order food in a restaurant without quipping about how they’ll have to exercise it off later or how naughty they feel.
Don’t try telling me that you only include it to make the character seem relatable, because I don’t want to relate to someone who will cause me to think horrible thoughts about my body and spiral back into disordered eating myself.
Let your characters put on clothes without agonizing over how they need to lose weight. Let them enjoy food. Let them move their bodies for joy rather than punishment. Because, and I say this from love and a place of empathy, your characters’ insecurities and disordered eating are coming from your own issues. And I care about you, and I want you to work on those issues. I do. But right now, they are poisoning my brain and that of all other readers. Authors like you have helped create my issues, and I refuse to let you do it anymore.
If you write for adults, you are writing for readers who have already been indoctrinated to accept body shaming, but shouldn’t have to. If you are writing for children and teens, this is a whole new level, and over my dead body will I let you harm yet another generation. I will call you out and demand better from both you and your publisher.
There are readers who claim not to even notice this problematic content in books, and that’s because society has taught them to absorb it without even knowing it. They deserve better. I notice it and it hurts me and I deserve better.
If you are a writer who already does this the right way, thank you. You are a unicorn. If you aren’t sure if you are doing it right, you probably need a sensitivity reader for this topic. Please contact me.