Halfway to Perfect

Halfway to PerfectThe 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?

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