The notion of physical perfection is nothing new, despite the fact that no such thing exists. Most of us girls grew up on teen magazines that spoon-fed us the idea of striving for body types they told us were beautiful, desirable, “perfect.” What has this led to? In case you haven’t noticed, the obese among us are not the only ones driving the ever-burgeoning diet industry. Lots of average-sized, barely voluptuous, and even skinny-minnies have fallen into the trap, too.
What’s all this got to do with kids? Plenty, I’m sorry to say. I’ve had friends, who parent 7- and 8‑year-old girls, tell me their little ones bemoan the fact that they are “fatter” than someone in their class. These girls, these children, have already made the dreaded “D” word part of their regular vocabulary. Even the skinniest among them become despondent when they realize they are not as skinny as the girl next door. Conversation on the playground, these days, includes discussions of which girl in class weighs the least!
I don’t know about you, but this frightens me. I decided it was time to address this subject. I did so in a chapter book titled Halfway to Perfect: A Dyamonde Daniel Book. In it, my characters tackle the twin topics of body image and healthy eating.
Damaris, Dyamonde’s friend, succumbs to the peer pressure of her classmates, and begins a self-prescribed diet which essentially involves cutting out almost every food put in front of her. (Carrot sticks, anyone?)
Worried for her friend, Dyamonde looks for ways to help Damaris see that, far from being fat, she is practically perfect.
As I developed the storyline, I realized this would be a wonderful opportunity to teach young readers a little something about diabetes, a disease that increasing numbers of children are wrestling with. My own knowledge of the disease was somewhat limited, so it was time to put on my research hat!
In addition to the information I found in books like Juvenile Diabetes for Dummies, I was fortunate to know a veteran school nurse with whom I could consult. Her assistance proved invaluable. Besides giving me information about the disease and some of its treatments, relative to my storyline, she also apprised me of the privacy laws governing the handling of a child’s medical information within the school system. As a thank-you to my friend for all her help, I named the nurse in my story after her!
During the course of the story, Dyamonde and Damaris get to know a classmate with diabetes. Through this new relationship, both girls learn that a healthy diet is the only diet they should worry about, because a healthy body is the most perfect body of all.
In case you’re thinking this story is all work, and no play, not to worry! This is Dyamonde Daniel, after all. There are laughs along the way, and Free adds his own brand of comic relief, as always.
Here’s how the story starts off. Here’s hoping you’ll want to grab a copy and read the rest!
You’d never know it to look at her skinny little self, but Dyamonde loves food. If there were a class in eating, she’d get an A+ every time.
Dyamonde treats all food fairly. She likes Mexican tacos, Chinese egg rolls, and Cuban beans and rice. She eats beef hot dogs, turkey burgers, and fried chicken. Actually, she likes just about anything that has chicken in it: noodle soup, potpie, even chicken salad sandwiches.
Dyamonde doesn’t have much use for vegetables, but she loves broccoli, mostly because each spear looks like a tree. And she loves fruit—especially peaches, cherries, and grapes, of any size or color. Dyamonde also loves some foods that other people don’t, like cottage cheese and applesauce mixed together.
“Yuck!” said Free, the first time he saw her eat some.
“Oh, puleeze!” said Dyamonde, stirring in a little more applesauce. “You just wish you had a bowlful!”
Yes. Dyamonde loved all sorts of food, but her absolute favorite food in the whole wide world was spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread. And guess what Mrs. Daniel had made the last time Free and Damaris came over?