Trigger Warning: This novel and review discuss the following: dieting, mental illness, bullying, emotional trauma.
Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars
If you haven’t been living under a rock for the last year or two (and if you have and are now reading this, welcome welcome), you’ve probably heard of the term “body positivity” or “body acceptance”. It’s based on the crazy, outlandish notion that all bodies are worthy of social acceptance. Of course, I’m being facetious- this is the most amazing thing I’ve ever heard of, and I’m dying to spread the word.
As a fat girl, I have always had difficulty with loving my body just as it is. Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been conscious of my weight and the scrutiny of what others thought about it. I remember dieting by the time I was in third grade (in an old diary, at age eleven, I was worried about losing weight). In retrospect, there have been so many times where I’ve looked at old pictures of myself, despite at the time hating the numbers on the scale even back then, and wishing I could look like I did 5, 10 years ago. And above all, it’s always been something I didn’t really want to talk about. I’m not a big “let’s talk about our feelings” kind of girl…I’m still trying to figure out why, but honestly I’ve always been really protective of talking about my personal baggage. I always took it as, it’s mine and mine alone to carry.
Thankfully, I’ve been really fortunate in that I’ve surrounded myself with some really amazing people who have loved me at every size, and they’ve always given me the confidence booster I needed when I was having a ‘bad body’ day. They see me for me, and know my weight doesn’t change how much I love them or what I would do for them, and visa versa. One of those amazing people includes one of my most awesome best friends, Althea, who told me about this blog, called The Militant Baker – let me tell you how much that has helped me.
Hang in there- I promise there is a reason for this back story!
So I’ve linked to her blog, but in short Jes Baker is a very strong and active advocate for body positivity, for both women, men and everyone in between! Seeing her posts and advice and colorful commentary (she loves to swear/curse- I find it hilarious and charming, though I acknowledge others may feel differently) really made me think about how I view my body and interact with others around me. Things like, I didn’t need to lose weight to love my body just as it is; That others weren’t going to die or whatever if I wore a sleeveless shirt or horizontal stripes out in public; That I had the right to dance, run, jump, and move however my body wanted to without worrying if I was horrifying others with my jiggly bits. Again, I’ve spent sooo much time within my head going over the ‘fat girls can’t” rules that they became a running commentary that I conditioned myself to work around- and because of that, I spent a lot of time trying to hide that reasoning, or even worse joking about it and keeping that negativity going. When Althea said, hey check out this blog, I didn’t realize that I could begin freeing myself from this inner dialogue, and how AMAZING that felt.
Alright already, enough about me, let’s get to the book!
SO, when I learned that Baker decided to write a book, I knew I just had to read it. It’s been on my TBR pile long before I even knew what a TBR pile was. So when I finally got my hands on it, I tore through it, flagging every other page or so, and I’ve decided to share with you 10 (even thought I could easily triple that!) nuggets that blew my mind:
- “The word “pretty”, when used to describe a woman’s physical appearance, signifies a physical ideal that’s fabricated by companies to make you believe you’ll never be enough until you reach it. Pretty is what they want you to believe in.” Think about that for a second- how many times have you seen a product boasting it’s ability to make you pretty/beautiful/younger, etc. It’s a money scam!
- “81% of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat (more than cancer, war, or losing both of their parents). In a survey of 9- and 10-year-old girls, 40% have tried to lose weight. 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting. And, 5% of women naturally possess the body type often portrayed by Americans in the media.” If those statistics don’t make your jaw drop, then I don’t know what will.
- “Your life is not going to become happier, more amazing, or more successful after you lose those 10lbs. Or 20lbs. Or 50lbs. Because the pounds aren’t really the issue. Your state of mind is.” How many times have you heard this? After 10 lbs, I’ll (fill in the blank.) Yeah, I’m so over that.
- “Diet culture is the reason weight loss is at the top of everyone’s New Year’s resolutions lists. Everyone hates dieting, but we still feel this thrill when we eat a carrot or get our dressing on the sides.” When she explains this, I just kept repeating “ohmygawd” to myself. Like, the whole chapter. Which by the way has a hilarious and high five worthy title that I’ll let you all find for yourselves!
- A la Marie Kondo- “This applies to the beauty standards we were raised with. I’m going to challenge you to mentally pick up each rule you’ve been taught and ask yourself: Does this bring me joy?” I LOVE THIS THOUGHT. Do tank tops bring me joy? Yes- keep. Clothes that I’m “someday going to fit into?” No- toss. Eating healthy? Yes! Keeping a food journal & counting calories? NO!
- “One study showed that over 50% of primary care physicians viewed fat patients as “awkward”, “unattractive”, and “noncompliant”. In another study, 45% of a sample of physicians agreed they have a negative reaction to fat individuals.” She then goes on to talk about how doctors tend to only see the weight and not the actual health problem- which I have witnessed first hand thanks to a little known thing called Factor 2 Blood Mutation. It’s a wonder why people are afraid to go to the doctor- we can’t just go in and get a cure for our sinus infection without the addition of being told to lose some weight.
- “We all deserve the same amount of opportunity, respect, health care, education, life, love, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness regardless of our size, shade, shape, sex, gender, level of ability, and health records.” She said I could quote her on it in the book, so I did not only because of that, but because I believe she is 100% correct in this statement.
- “If you were to fill a room with women of all shapes and sizes, most of those women would have cellulite. Because, it’s totally and completely normal. Why don’t men have as much cellulite? Well, (1) their skin is thicker so it shows less, and (2) they store more fat around their organs instead of between the skin and muscle like we do.”
- “Take care of yourself above all else. It isn’t greedy. It isn’t selfish. It’s absolutely necessary, and this concept can translate into every part of your life.”
- “Contrary to what we’ve been taught, other people’s bodies are NOT ours to publicly comment on.” It sounds obvious, but we’re probably all guilty of making a comment we shouldn’t have. I’ll admit to it- and I’m also making a conscious effort to stop myself, because I also know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of that cruelty. As Baker continues, there is SO MUCH MORE we could talk about without having to put someone else at the expense of conversation.
I swear guys, I still have 23 (yes I counted) other flags left- there’s just SO MUCH GOOD STUFF. So obviously, I’m off to order this one for my own personal library. I suggest you all read it- even if you aren’t a fat girl, there are so many great “decent human being” points that would resonate with any reader. Body love and body positivity are here to stay, and the more that we can discuss acceptance and HAVE acceptance, the better the world will be. Yes, seriously.
(Photo Credit: Chubstr.com, Google Images)
TL/DR: Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls by Jes Baker is a self help/memoir about body acceptance full of advice and facts about stigmas and taboos associated with fat women, and how they can learn to accept and love their body.
Read it? YES- oh my gosh, a thousand times yes.
Recommend it? Yes- I recommend this one so much, you’d think I was paid by Baker (I’m not, lol, but seriously I just love this book.)
Buy it? Yes, and a few extra copies for your friends.
If you liked this novel or review, check out these similar reads: