An Open Letter to the Readers of Sweet
I had such a great time writing SWEET. I got to write a book with a strong romantic plot mixed with a disaster story that was set on a luxury cruise studded with made-up celebrities AND I got to write a bunch of terrifying blood-drinking scenes. This is about the most fun thing I can imagine to write. But once I sat back and looked at what I’d written I realized it was dealing with some pretty serious issues -- with substance addiction, body image and obesity at the top of the list.
I’m no authority in any of those fields, but I wanted the readers of SWEET to know where I stand on them nonetheless. What I’ve decided to do is to write a letter to my teenage self. Since I’m not an expert, and since I don’t want to use my position as a novelist as some kind of soap box, I thought I’d just direct this conversation at my own self. You, my friend, are welcome to eavesdrop!
Thursday, February 23, 2015
Dear 16 year-old Emmy,
Hello you beautiful young woman! Hello my own self from the past! I send you much love from the future, where you’ve managed to marry a smart, generous giant-bear of a man, raise two creative and intelligent children, and find a career you truly love.
So look, I’ve got good news and bad news and, well, since I AM you, I know you prefer to hear the bad news first.
You, my dear, have a serious problem with sugar. You are a sucraholic. Now, this is a term that isn’t used widely, even in the far off year of 2015, from which I write you. I may have made it up. Nevertheless, it’s the right term for what you are. You are addicted to sugar. Not in a cutesy way with a hippo on a mug saying “I never met a chocolate I didn’t like.” Not like that. It’s way, way uglier than that.
You will use sugar and sugary foods like a drug for the next, Jeez Louise, 25 years. You will go through periods when you will binge on sweets just to get through the day, hour by hour. There will be times when you eat it straight from the bowl until you pass out. I wish I were joking, but I’m not. (Hint: Los Angeles, circa year 2000.)
It’s no use trying to figure out why you’re like this. It’s some combination of body chemistry, genetics and personal drama. You can be thankful it’s not something more sinister, like alcohol or heroin, but nevertheless, you’re an addict.
The truth is that in order to be healthy and radiant, you’re going to have to give up sugar forever. Yes, this includes all sweeteners. Yeah, even honey. Yeah, even freakin’ agave syrup (which no one has heard of in 1988, but will become a thing sometime around 2010.) How are you going to do this? How are you going to give it up?
First, you’re going to read POTATOES NOT PROSAC by Dr. Kathleen DesMaisons. It’s going to rock your world. You’ll follow the steps laid out in her book and it will help you cure the nutritional aspect of your sugar addiction. But you won’t really be able to stay off the sauce until you also deal with the spiritual aspect of the problem. You’re going to need to find a support group of other people who suffer from food and sugar addiction. They are out there, and when you find them, you’ll feel like you’ve come home.
Okay, bad news over.
Here’s the good news: you know that shame you carry around about your weight? You don’t need it. Not any of it!
Yes, I’m talking to you, 16 year old Emmy, whose body is as close as it will ever be to the completely absurd standard of beauty that America uses to torture its women. You do not, now or ever, need to feel shame about your body.
Yes, eat healthy, nutritious foods. Yes, exercise. Yes, limit bacon to two slices (okay, three). But try not to go around thinking that your worth is related to the size of your belly or your hips or your behind. Don’t waste time trying to shrink to fit. The time you spend obsessing about your weight is time you could spend learning to play the piano. And how great would it be if you could play the piano?!
It’ll take longer than you would like, but once you have come to terms with your addiction, your obsession with your weight and with your body being perfect will fade away. It will leave (okay, not entirely) but most of it will be gone. Baby, this is very good news.
I promise you that life sober is much more fulfilling than life spent wondering when you can next sneak away to cram chocolate chips in your mouth. You’re going to be very happy when you get here.
from your own badass self,