How to Be Yourself: Ideological Interpellation, Weight Control, and YA Novels

  • Dorothy Karlin
Keywords: girls, body image, Althusser, eating disorders, food


This article engages with two YA novels in order to examine how texts that appear to go against prevalent cultural messages about bodily norms participate nonetheless in the same process of ideological interpellation. Carolyn Mackler’s The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things has an overweight protagonist, whereas Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls has an anorexic one. Both novels show their characters changing how they interact with food and thereby becoming productive members of society. As the novels work to undo destructive socialization, they provide new lessons in appropriate consumption.


DOI: 10.1353/jeu.2014.0023

Author Biography

Dorothy Karlin

Dorothy Karlin completed her B.A. in Comparative Literature at Dartmouth College, and she has a dual degree in Children’s Literature and Library Sciences from Simmons College. As a children’s librarian, she tells families that all reading is good reading, but she is particularly interested in how literature fits within broader ideological projects, whether related to colonialism, eating, gender, childhood and adolescence, or all of the above.

How to Cite
Karlin, D. (2014). How to Be Yourself: Ideological Interpellation, Weight Control, and YA Novels. Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures, 6(2). Retrieved from