Author Spotlight: Jes Baker

About the Author

I’m sure by now 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.

Jes BakerJes Baker is a very strong and active advocate for body acceptance. Seeing her blog posts on The Militant Baker and her advice – complete with colorful commentary (she loves to swear/curse- I find it hilarious and charming, though I acknowledge others may feel differently) really makes me think about how I view my body and interact with others around me. She isn’t the first to take a stand for body acceptance, but she sure has taken on a leadership role in the movement, going all over the world and hosting discussions. 

Now, with her two publications and blog getting major attention, she’s changed a lot of people’s perspectives, given them the tools to accept their bodies and shrug off negative stigmas and standards. I know someday, I’d love to meet her and thank her in person!

Books:

Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls
Published: September 9, 2015, Seal Press

Trigger Warning: This novel and review discuss the following: dieting, mental illness, bullying, emotional trauma.

Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls was a mind-blowing revelation read for me. All the stars, all the praise- but more importantly, all the advice! Instead of an explaination on how great this book is, here are ten quotes from Baker’s debut self-help book. 

img_8039“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.”

Baker 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.”

And there you have it folks- science.

“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.

“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.”

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. 

Landwhale
Published: May 8, 2018, Seal Press

Trigger Warning: This novel and review discuss the following: dieting, mental illness, bullying, emotional trauma.

Landwhale is a memoir of Baker’s life experiences dealing with some of the big things that she struggled with, such as: dealing with mental illness and PCOS; learning to liberate her body; falling in love and navigating the relationship; relationship problems with her father; and names that have been hurled at her for because of her appearance. In true Baker fashion, she addresses everything conversationally and without apology. She even starts off the book with a disclaimer:

img_6800“…a Hey, I’m writing about real life, and real life can occasionally be difficult, so please be gentle with your heart while flipping through these pages was in order. So in the spirit of transparency, I offer you this insider tip: The book you’re holding? It’s basically one long-ass trigger.”

As I read, I empathized with many of Baker’s experiences, and felt nothing but compassion and respect for her as she opened her heart and poured it into her writing. I teared up many times, but she always saved me from full out crying with a well timed joke, comment, or footnote. But before you go thinking the book is entirely heartbreaking, I will add that there are so many clever retorts and fantastic information that can be applied to your own personal situations. 

“There is power in taking up space. There is power in challenging social norms. There is power in being fat and daring to exist. Every day I live my life, I’m winning.”

I also laughed and cheered when it came to learning more about the book’s title and how Baker changed the insulting names back to their original meaning, or even acceptably cute nicknames! As a fellow fatty, I too have been called a myriad of insulting names that for the most part I let roll off me, but there have been a handful of situations where I felt completely demolished by hurt and shame. Now, I can look at some of those situations (that have stuck with me, and probably will for a long time) and see that the person flinging the insults is someone with their own insecurities who found an easy target to take their frustrations out upon. It’s still not okay, but having someone give you the tools and the ability to get perspective on those situations holds a lot a value, in my opinion.

Within Landwhale, Baker lists at least a half dozen body image role models (that I promptly searched for & followed on Instagram), countless pointers on how to shut down the “have you tried dieting?” conversation, and a dozen pros (and cons) to loving your body. It’s 253 pages of raw emotion and advice, and I strongly suggest you buy yourself a copy this instant. 



Categories: Author Spotlights, Body Acceptance, Dating / Relationships, Memoirs, Nonfiction, Self Help

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