When I was in junior high, I read V.C. Andrews and The Baby-sitters Club, not Sweet Valley High. I do remember seeking out the one where someone named, I think, Regina dies of a cocaine overdose. But beyond that, I wasn’t interested. I just couldn’t relate to Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield. I was neither the good twin nor the bad twin—I was awkward and chubby and socially retarded, not beautiful, rich, blonde, popular, or thin. (I know what you’re thinking—that Cathy Dollanganger was also beautiful, rich, popular, and thin. Well she was also having sex with her brother in that attic, which you have to agree is a trump card.)
You may be wondering where I’m going with all of this. Never fear, I do have a point! It all brings me around to the e-mails I got today from Robin and Erin, alerting me to this development in the Sweet Valley High series: the books are being updated, changing the Wakefield twins’ size from “a perfect size 6” to “a perfect size 4.”
[J]ust to make sure preteen and teenaged girl readers are sufficiently insecure about their bodies, the publisher made the “perfect” clothing size a couple of notches more restrictive. It seems kids in the 80s lived by totally fat standards. Also, Sweet Valley High students now have their own anonymous blog, presumably to hatefully bully the fattest of their classmates.
(Robin also provides a link to this site, which as she puts it “rips the original SVH books a new one, often identifying the damaging messages it has about weight and looks.” Thanks for the link, Robin; good times.)
My first reaction was, indeed, to feel indignant and infuriated. But now that I think about it, really, it doesn’t make much of a difference. Elizabeth and Jessica were always “perfect” in a way that I found it impossible to relate to, and the fact that their bodies were “perfect” was no small part of that. And beyond that, I think that the size change isn’t that they’re actually being made smaller, only that vanity sizing has come into play. Maybe size 4 is really the new size 6, and it’s not the Wakefield twins that have gotten smaller; it’s the numbers on the labels in their jeans.
Posted by mo pie