Join us for the launch of Virginia Sole-Smith’s new book Fat Talk! In this illuminating narrative on the daily onslaught of body shame that kids face from peers, school, diet culture, and parents themselves, journalist Virginia Sole-Smith offers a compelling reported look at how families can change the conversation around weight, health, and self-worth. Virginia will be in conversation with New York Times best selling cookbook author Julia Turshen. This event is co-hosted by Split Rock Books and books will be available for purchase.
By the time they reach kindergarten, most kids have learned that “fat” is bad. As they get older, kids learn to pursue thinness in order to survive in a world that ties our body size to our value. Multibillion-dollar industries thrive on consumers believing that we don’t want to be fat. Our weight-centric medical system pushes “weight loss” as a prescription, while ignoring social determinants of health and reinforcing negative stereotypes about the motives and morals of people in larger bodies. And parents today, having themselves grown up in the confusion of modern diet culture, worry equally about the risks of our kids caring too much about being “thin” and about what happens if our kids are fat. Sole-Smith shows how the reverberations of this messaging and social pressures on young bodies continue well into adulthood—and what we can do to fight them.
Fat Talk argues for a reclaiming of “fat,” which is not synonymous with “unhealthy,” “inactive,” or “lazy.” Talking to researchers and activists, as well as parents and kids across a broad swath of the country, Sole-Smith lays bare how America’s focus on solving the “childhood obesity epidemic” has perpetuated a second crisis of disordered eating and body hatred for kids of all sizes. She exposes our society’s internalized fatphobia and elucidates how and why we need to stop “preventing obesity” and start supporting kids in the bodies they have.
Continuing conversations started by works like Girls & Sex, Under Pressure, and Essential Labor, Fat Talk is a stirring, deeply researched, and groundbreaking book that will help parents learn to reckon with their own body biases, identify diet culture messaging, and ultimately empower their kids to navigate this challenging landscape. Sole-Smith offers an alternative framework for parenting around food and bodies, and a way for us all to work toward a more weight-inclusive world—because it’s not our kids, or their bodies, who need fixing.
As a journalist, Virginia Sole-Smith has reported from kitchen tables and grocery stores, graduated from beauty school, and gone swimming in a mermaid’s tail. Virginia’s latest book, Fat Talk: Parenting in the Age of Diet Culture, investigates how the “war on childhood obesity” has caused kids of all ages to absorb a daily onslaught of body shame from peers, school, diet culture, and parents themselves — and offers research-based strategies to help parents name and navigate the anti-fat bias that infiltrates our schools, doctor’s offices and family dinner tables.
Virginia began her career in women’s magazines, alternatively challenging beauty standards and gender norms, and upholding diet culture through her health, nutrition and fitness reporting. Motherhood inspired a reckoning, and led to her first book, The Eating Instinct: Food Culture, Body Image and Guilt in America, in which Virginia explored how we can reconnect to our bodies, and our own innate understanding of how to eat, in a culture that’s constantly giving us so many mixed messages about both those things.
Virginia’s work appears in the New York Times Magazine, Scientific American, and many other publications. She writes the newsletter Burnt Toast, where she explores fatphobia, diet culture, parenting and health, and also hosts the Burnt Toast Podcast. Virginia lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband, two daughters, a cat, a dog, and way too many houseplants.
Julia Turshen is a New York Times bestselling cookbook author. Her latest book, Simply Julia, is an IACP award-winning national bestseller. Julia has written for multiple publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Vogue. She is the founder of Equity At The Table (EATT), an inclusive digital directory of women/non-binary individuals in food, and the host and producer of the IACP-nominated podcast Keep Calm and Cook On, which the New York Times has called “an antidote to diet culture.” Epicurious has named Julia one of the ‘100 Greatest Home Cooks of All Time.’ She sits on the Kitchen Cabinet Advisory Board for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and is a member of God’s Love We Deliver’s Culinary Council. She writes a weekly newsletter, teaches live cooking classes every Sunday afternoon, and is a competitive powerlifter. Julia lives in the Hudson Valley with her spouse Grace and their many pets.