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Pursuing Perfection: Eating Disorders. Body Myths, and Women at Midlife and Beyond.

Margo Maine, Ph.D. and Joe Kelly.

1999 Hardback 230 pp.,
ISBN-13: 978-1138890725
ISBN-10: 1138890723
Print list price: $34.95 USD

Routledge, 2016

In Pursuing Perfection, authors Margo Maine and Joe Kelly explore the emotional, social and cultural factors behind the ongoing epidemic of disordered eating and body image despair in adult women at midlife and beyond. Written from a biopsychosocial and feminist perspective, Pursuing Perfection describes the many issues women encounter as they navigate a rapidly changing culture that promotes unhealthy standards for beauty and appearance. This updated and expanded edition (originally published as The Body Myth: Adult Women and the Pressure to Be Perfect) is a unique guide for anyone seeking practical tools and strategies for adult women looking to establish health and body acceptance.


Editorial Reviews

An important and timely book, every woman needs to read Pursuing Perfection! Authors Margo Maine and Joe Kelly illuminate essential truths on each page. Their words will capture your attention and change your life. ~Jenni Schaefer, Author of Life Without Ed; Goodbye Ed, Hello Me; and Almost Anorexic

The fallacy of perfection casts an evil spell over too many women’s lives. Left unchecked, it distorts our relationships – at all ages ?with our bodies, our families, our working lives, and especially, with our sense of self. Margo Maine and Joe Kelly’s Pursuing Perfection lays bare these distortions and offers valuable insights and strategies for freeing our true selves from this dangerous illusion. 

~Aimee Liu, Author of Gaining: The Truth About Life After Eating Disorders and Solitaire


Pursuing Perfection, the updated and expanded edition of The Body Myth by Maine and Kelly, is a gutsy, forceful tour of women’s midlife landscape. Immediately and effectively embracing in its intent and impact, reading it feels less like opening up a book, than curling up in a chair in Dr. Maine’s office. Illuminating the body traps that insidiously ensnare women during these vital years, and providing myriad tools to circumvent or dismantle their impact, readers will indubitably feel partnered in their efforts to seek wholeness devoid of perfection?"the rich and imperfect lives each of us is meant to live." Though written primarily for women and nonprofessionals, anyone related to or working with adult women will similarly benefit from this informed, practical and passionate treatise on the "perfect problem" of eating disorders and body loathing, and the resources for their resolution.

~Beth Hartman McGilley, PhD, FAED, CEDS, Licensed Clinical Psychologist; Fellow, Academy for Eating Disorders


In Pursuing Perfection, Margo Maine is the ultimate myth buster giving the reader a superb and crystal clear description of how our cultural belief in perfection undermines the brains, bodies, and relationships of women (and men) who try to force fit themselves into an impossible mold. This book is an essential read for clinicians and lay people who are trying to understand the confusing language and behavior of people who develop eating disorders. 

~Amy Banks, M.D., Director of Advanced Training at the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute and author of Four Ways to Click: Rewrite Your Brain for Stronger, More Rewarding Relationships

Pursuing Perfection is a must-read book for adult women who have struggled with food and body image issues, and for their families and friends. In this beautifully written book full of wisdom and unparalleled experience, Maine and Kelly share highly relatable stories of women, across the age spectrum, with eating disorders. These stories, and the thoughtful commentary that accompany them, debunk the myth that only teenagers suffer from anorexia and bulimia. This is an approachable, eye-opening, and valuable book that honors women and the challenges they face. It will prove to be an invaluable resource for women working through an eating disorder, and for their loved ones. 

~Jennifer L. Gaudiani, MD, CEDS, Founder and Medical Director of the Gaudiani Clinic

In this thoughtfully updated volume, Margo Maine and Joe Kelly offer practical guidance and constructive advice for adults who suffer from a wide array of eating problems and body image concerns. Because these issues are on the rise among adults of all ages, this important resource will assist patients, loved ones, and professionals in recognizing, assisting with, and preventing a life sapping and physically endangering illnesses from taking root. 

~Kathryn Zerbe, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Oregon Health and Science University

True beauty comes from the soul. To change yourself and to conform to anyone else's standards of beauty, is to change your essence. The concept of perfection is dismantled in Pursuing Perfection, allowing joy and self-acceptance if not celebration that we already are the best we have to offer life in any given moment. Thank you Margo and Joe, for you have exposed the most powerful concept of all, the truth. ~EMME, women's advocate, @SupermodelEmme


Pursuing Perfection is a must have book. Margo Maine and Joe Kelly expertly cover body dissatisfaction, cultural and family influences, eating disorders and even treatment options, thoroughly while making the book incredibly personal through self-assessments quizzes and a feature they call "Stepping –Back," allowing readers to explore how their past influences their present. Though initially geared for women in midlife, this book can help anyone get a better grasp on the hefty price tag of perfectionism and what each of us can to do about it. 

~Carolyn Costin, Med., MA. MFT, FAED,CEDS, Founder, Monte Nido and Affiliates, Author of 8 Keys To Recovery From An Eating Disorder, Yoga and Eating Disorders: Ancient Healing For A Modern Illness, Your Dieting Daughter, The Eating Disorder Sourcebook, 100 Questions and Answers About Eating Disorders


Pursuing Perfection updates the milestone The Body Myth: Adult Women and the Pressure to Be Perfect that first shined the light on the extent and the pain of eating, weight, and body concerns in older women. Maine and Kelly have enriched our understanding of the unique experience and needs of women struggling to reconcile ageing, intimacy and body acceptance in the face of toxic cultural messages.

 ~Douglas Bunnell, Ph.D., FAED, CEDS, Chief Clinical Officer, Monte Nido & Affiliates

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