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'Shoelace Hug': a children's book to address the issue of anorexia

A story for girls to learn to value their bodies and to empathize with those around us who suffer from some condition.

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Her experience working with children, her challenges in dealing with her own mental health issues and her passion for writing led Alejandra Vega Rivera to write a series of short stories about anorexia, autism, and oppositional defiant disorder with tantrums and anxiety.

The first story she has released is 'Un Abrazo de Agujeta', whose English version is 'Shoelace Hug', which addresses the issue of anorexia.

The book stars Rebecca, a great student and successful figure skater who's about to celebrate her 10th birthday. She has it all. However, her troubled relationship with her body image prevents her from enjoying life to the fullest. Rebecca holds a deep love for her electric pink laces and an uncontrolled conflict with food... Which one will be stronger?

This book aims to raise awareness in societies and families on the importance of being informed about mental health issues-such as anorexia-and empathizing with ourselves and those around us.

The book is aimed primarily at girls and tweens who find themselves in conflict with their own bodies despite the #bodypositivity movements flooding social media today. Anorexia is a problem of the female gender: about 90% of people suffering from anorexia, the central theme of the book, are female.

 It is estimated that the average age at risk of developing the disorder is 8 years old. The problem has accelerated with the proliferation of digital culture: what is seen on a screen does not necessarily correspond to reality, but for children it is difficult to make this separation.

"In a global society that values apparent success - through economic metrics, beauty, and prestige - we must be attentive, as adults, to the signs that the children and young people in our care manifest," the author wrote in the Los Angeles Times.

The inspiration to create this series came to her during the pandemic, "like a tickle in your nose that won't stop bothering you until you attend to it," she said. 

"Writing is my passion. That combined with the idea of doing children's books on mental health issues to break stigmas and choose a different life; and I wanted to do something about everything after my own experience with mental health problems," she added to La Opinión. 

A communicator, cultural promoter and writer, she emigrated from her native Mexico to Los Angeles in 2014, where she worked with children in the "Leer es crecer" workshop, a workshop co-founded by the Los Angeles branch of the National Autonomous University of Mexico and the Institute of Mexicans Abroad. 

 'Abrazo de Agujeta' can be purchased globally, in its Spanish or English version (Shoelace Hug), at sites such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sanborns, El Sótano, and Walmart. Available in print and digital versions.

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