The Girls Who Do Not Eat: Food, Hunger, and Thinness in Meg Rosoff’s <em>How I Live Now</em> and Laurie Halse Anderson’s <em>Wintergirls</em>

  • Hsin-Chun (Jamie) Tsai
Keywords: anorexia, food studies, thinness, hunger, scarcity


Critics have suggested that anorexia occurs frequently among middle-class and upper-middle-class adolescent girls. Going through a crucial stage of their development, they starve themselves voluntarily in times of plenty amid societal pressures to be thin. Published in the last decade, the two novels examined here serve as a locus for an analysis of this increasingly prevailing phenomenon and its connection to current social conditions. Drawing on food studies and on existing research on anorexia, this paper explores the significance of food, hunger, and thinness in both novels. Through its depiction of the protagonist’s experiences of genuine hunger and wartime scarcity, Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now urges a re-evaluation of familiar experiences of food and the prevailing views of thinness that are broadly accepted in societies of abundance. Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls presents a remarkable insight into a culture that encourages consumption and praises weight loss, revealing a pressing need for reform of both notions.


DOI: 10.1353/jeu.2014.0007

Author Biography

Hsin-Chun (Jamie) Tsai

Hsin-Chun (Jamie) Tsai is Assistant Professor in the Department of English at National Taitung University in Taiwan, where she teaches courses in children’s literature and young adult fiction. Her research interests include food, heroes/heroines and cowards, gender, and power relations in texts for young people, in particular the fantasy genre. She has published a book chapter on heroism and cowardice in Ursula Le Guin’s fiction in Relevant across Cultures: Visions of Connectedness and Earth Citizenship in Modern Fantasy for Young Readers and a journal article on food in Diana Wynne Jones’s novel in International Research in Children’s Literature.

How to Cite
Tsai, H.-C. (Jamie). (2014). The Girls Who Do Not Eat: Food, Hunger, and Thinness in Meg Rosoff’s <em>How I Live Now</em> and Laurie Halse Anderson’s <em>Wintergirls</em&gt;. Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures, 6(1). Retrieved from
Articles for Special Issue on Consumption