Stick Figure by Lori Gottlieb

Growing up in Beverly Hills in the 1970s, Lori Gottlieb learned the lessons her culture had to teach her—for example, that “no one could ever like a girl with thunder thighs.” Lori took those lessons seriously, and saw her world fall slowly apart as she developed a fierce reluctance to eat—winding up hospitalized when her “diet” took over her life. Fortunately, she recorded the journey in her diary, and her story is funny, slyly insightful, and surprisingly universal. A Los Angeles Times bestseller, Lori’s story is being made into a motion picture film by Martin Scorsese’s company, Carpo Productions. 

This memoir was written from Lori Gottlieb’s old diary entries when she was just a preteen. When I first realized this, I thought that it would feel juvenile, but the opposite was the case. Although there was the expected insights about school, peers (especially the “mean girls” and her family but the insights in this book surprised me.

Lori spends a lot of time observing the people around her, especially the women in her life. In the late 70’s, diet culture was huge and Lori observed her mother, her friend’s and their mother’s in their relationship with food. Over and over again she saw how women saw food as the enemy. The women in her life almost always showed some type of disordered eating so it was easy to see why Lori at first became interested in those behaviors and as an overachiever, taking the behavior to the extreme.

This was a short book, just over 200 pages, but I took my time reading it as there was a lot to process. I understand all to well what it’s like to grow up in a household where I was privy to disordered eating (though, of a different type) and it made me realize just how much kids observe. I hope I remember this as my daughter gets older and it’s super important for her to be surrounded by body positivity.

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