Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls by Jes Baker

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”.  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 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 my awesome friend, 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:

  1. “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!
  2. “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.
  3. “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.
  4. “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!
  5. 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!
  6. “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.
  7. “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.
  8. “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.”
  9. “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.”
  10. “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.

 

 

 

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Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It – Intro by Elizabeth Gilbert

So if you didn’t see the review I did for Eat Pray Love, please start there– I’ll wait.

Ok, you with me? Good, because my Lord this woman and her freaking book. Here is physical proof that A BOOK CAN CHANGE LIVES. Change LIVES, people. A whole book, based off one bestseller, that influenced so many people that they actually could create a 200 page, short story style book with the accounts of those that felt like their lives were changed in some way because of that book.

So obviously, this is why I urge you to read Eat Pray Love. And then when you’ve done so, read …Made Me Do It because there are so many people like you out there, with their own story and their own struggles and their own coping methods, and all they needed was a friend who understood. And there lies unapologetic Elizabeth Gilbert, who put herself out there via a novel and said, “I’ve been through this, too.”

Now, at first, as I started reading this I thought it would be a bit dramatic…you know, “Oh I read this book and it changed my life and it’s my bible.” I mean, I know about fandoms, and this compilation seemed like it would be fandom material. However, my frame of mind reverted to how I felt reading Eat Pray Love, and their stories were heartfelt, inspirational, and just as resonating as Gilbert’s. The people in …Made Me Do It took their journeys to a point where they could have an out-of-body reflection upon their situation, wrote about it, and in many cases stated that they are still progressing. THAT inspired me. They all shared that exact feeling of “It doesn’t have to be this way, and I have the power to change it.”

So, if you need a little motivation or inspiration, please, check out these books. Buy them, so that you can mark them up and reflect upon them when you feel the need to. Let these people, who shared their stories, influence you to share yours.

 

The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

“Put the things you can put right today, and let the ones from back then go. Leave the rest to the angels, or the devil or whoever’s in charge of it.”

What would you do if you had to choose between your moral compass and your heart’s desire? From the moment that Tom Sherbourne finds the tiny baby ashore on Janus Island, something felt wrong. Not just the circumstance- the lone floating dingy with a dead man and screaming baby inside it- but the decision made to delay reporting the incident on a plea from his wife, Isabel, who sweeps the poor child into her arms. Yet despite the unease, the childless couple that had tried and failed to expand their family accepted this little girl like gift from God. 

It was, at first, easy enough to cover up the arrival of the baby they named Lucy. Being the lighthouse keeper and only residents on Janus Island, the couple were miles away from civilization, with no one but themselves to question the incident. Those in the know knew that Isabel had been expecting- and the couple felt no hurry to report the miscarriage that occured two weeks prior to Lucy’s arrival. But after two years of heaven on Janus, the family was granted leave to the mainland, and their fantacy world collides with reality. Lucy’s real mother is still searching for her, desperately believing her daughter, Grace, is still alive. When the Sherbournes find this out, the couple have to choose- out the truth, or continue the lie for the sake of love? Isabel takes camp in continued secrecy, but Tom can’t help but feel conflicted for not telling the truth- and therefore pitting himself against his wife. 

It’s heart wrenching story, and only devastates the reader the further they read. Stedman does a beautiful job of describing everything, from the fictional setting that had me looking for it on Google Maps despite, to the emotional feelings from all the parties involved in Lucy-Grace’s life. 

The only thing I could fault is the slow pace- it’s not a very long novel, but it took me quite a while to read it. However I see it fitting for this story anyways, because you DO have to read it slowly, and absorb the many facets of the setting, the characters, and the conflicts in between the two. 

The book was published in 2012, became a bestseller, and then produced into a film last September (which I’m now going to have to watch!). I’d recommend giving The Light Between Oceans a chance to steal your heart too.

Book Tags #TBRBooktag & #mylifewithbooks

Hi everyone! I decided to share my answers to two booktags that @sirens.books tagged me in. Here they are:

 #tbrbooktag

  • Most anticipated read: It was Cursed Child, but I just finished it… and am still conflicted.
  • Been there too long: All The Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr (At least three people have said I’ve got to read this!)
  • Afraid to start: The Hunger Games series- I’ve been wanting to read them but they’re so hyped and I’m hoping they’re as awesome as everyone says they are but what if they aren’t and 😳
  • Need to read ASAP: Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls, Jess Baker (She’s awesome and I really need to order this book!)

#mylifewithbooks

  • First, middle, last initials in books:
    • A: A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini
    • D: Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood, Rebecca Wells
    • C: Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins
  • Your age along the bookshelf: Little House on Rocky Ridge (How’s that for a throwback!? Must be a reflection on my age, haha)
  • Book in your favorite color: Fifty Shades of Grey, E.L. James (Is it black or grey? 😉)
  • Had the most difficulty reading: Beowulf, Unknown Author (Ugh, that was torture!)
  • Book on TBR pile that’ll give you the most accomplishment when you read it: Nice try, this one is impossible to answer!

I tagged those to answer on Instagram, but if you want to be tagged on WordPress, give me a shout by commenting below! And if you don’t want to be tagged but still have a comment on my answers, let me hear your thoughts! 🙂

 

 

Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts

Propped up on the “Top Shelf Recommendation” bookcase in the local library, Where the Heart Is grabbed my attention with the pretty yet simple cover and the quick description of Novalee Nation’s dislike for the number seven. By the end of the novel, it grabbed my heart as well.

I was quickly wrapped up in the story of Novalee Nation as her and her boyfriend, Willy Jack Pickens, were westbound for better luck. Natives of Tennessee, Novalee grew up without parents- she didn’t know her father and her mother left her when she was seven – dropped out school her sophomore year, and was living with Willy in a trailer, and seven months pregnant. This misfortune left Novalee dreaming of a home without wheels under it, gold framed family photographs, and blue china in the kitchen cabinets. Willy, on the other hand, was dreaming of money and riches and sipping sloe gin fizzes at Santa Anita. Little did they know that their lives were about to go in completely different directions. On a potty-break pit-stop at Walmart, Willy decides to ditch pregnant Novalee and heads west alone, only to end up in more trouble. Novalee, unsure and in disbelief that Willy would leave her stranded, has no real option other than to hang around the Walmart and see if he returns.

When she realizes that Willy isn’t coming back and that she is indeed stuck in podunk Oklahoma, Novalee starts making a plan. She takes up residence in Walmart, befriends some locals- including Sister Husband, Moses Whitecotton, and Forney Hull (who I think all readers will love)- and starts preparing for the birth of her child, knowing that she wouldn’t be able to afford hospital bills. However, when the big moment arrives, Novalee’s life is going to change forever.

I absolutely loved this book. I had a slight sense of deja vu that I’ve read it before, or seen parts of the movie (that I’ll now have to definitely watch and compare), but it didn’t spoil any of the plot twists and surprises that Letts had set in store for the readers. It is an older book- published in 1992- but it doesn’t feel too dated and has such a timeless plot that makes it easy to relate to in current times.

I found myself so submerged in the pages that a couple of times I had to remember where I was when I looked up! I highly suggest you read it, and if you won’t take mine or the library’s recommendation, it also has seal of approval by Oprah’s Book Club. Absolutely beautiful story.

The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin

I spotted this book in a local shop and picked it up to read the jacket. It was a pretty cover, and the story sounded like something right down my alley- historical nonfiction romance, and even one review stated that it was reminiscent of Downton Abbey– which I love. I didn’t purchase the book (I try to mind my budget, haha), but looked for it at my local library to checked it out.

The premise of the story is that one of the wealthiest debutantes in America, Cora Cash,  is almost desperate to escape the clutches of her overbearing mother. Although Mrs. Cash wouldn’t dare admit it, she’s hoping to marry off her daughter to a titled European man to raise the status of her “new money” family. After a failed proposal attempt to get away from her mother’s clutches, Cora and her mother head to Europe, landing in England. While out on a prestigious hunt, Cora breaks away from the other riders, notices an odd sound in the woods, and before she knows it, her horse spooks and tosses her to the ground. Fighting for consciousness, Cora is rescued by a handsome man who takes her back to his large estate and sends for a doctor. As the man named Ivo nurses Cora back to health, they end up falling for each other, very quickly. When the mother finds out, she is thrilled, because Ivo happens to be Duke of Wareham, and that would mean her daughter would become a Duchess.

However, pre- and post-wedding, Cora is having a hard time understanding her Duke and his old European ways. She finds herself trying to correct her Americanisms to the proper English methods, and learns what is and isn’t proper for the reputation of the Duke and Duchess. She also struggles with an overbearing mother-in-law, the Double Duchess, and the servants who still hold loyalty to their old lady of the house. So when Charlotte Beauchamp offers her friendship, Cora is grateful to have a female friend. However, she doesn’t realize that Charlotte has a history with her husband. The drama unfolds in the most passive-aggressive, sophisticated way between the mix of characters.

Goodwin does a very good job describing the “Edwardian Dollar Princess” era, in which young and rich American women were married off to historically upper class and titled European bachelors. And being a fan of the Downton Abbey television series, I can imagine much of what is portrayed in The American Heiress. I researched to see which came first, the novel or the TV series, and the novel was published a month prior to the series.

The downside to the novel, in my opinion, is that though both the series and the novel have slow paces, the TV series has much more action that pushes the plot along, and less predictability than the novel. In the novel, the narration goes into detail trying explain the setting and grandeur of the era, but it leaves the reader bogged with minute details that make it difficult to turn pages. I also noticed that there is a lot of necessary reading between the dialogue lines in order to understand the passive-aggressive upper class taunts, gossip, and reactions to both, which also slows the pace. But the most frustrating to me wasn’t the pace- it was the predictability of the plot. I stuck with the story basically to prove that I was correct in predicting the climax and resolution.

I won’t spoil it for those that do wish to read it, or are working on finishing it (shout out to my friend Amelia, who I know was having similar problems with the slow pace), but I expect you could guess what the outcome is by the first 50 pages, and spare you from reading the next 400.

 

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

As always, Jodi Picoult knows how to write a page turner, complete with uncomfortable controversy that squarely reflects current affairs. Small Great Things, published last year (2016), is her latest heavy-hitter, this time tackling the subject of race, privilege, and prejudice.

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse of twenty years, single mother of a straight-A student, and a well-educated, hard-working woman. Her mother, a domestic to a wealthy television personality’s family, gave her every opportunity she could to further Ruth’s education and independence. When Ruth found out she was pregnant while her husband was overseas fighting in the war on Afghanistan, she was determined to give her child the same opportunities to be successful and then some- anything to help overcome the imminent obstacles from being Black.

Turk Bauer is a new father to baby Davis, husband of Brittany, and son-in-law to infamous white supremacist Francis Mitchum. His childhood was rocky, to say the least. His father left the family when Turk was young, his brother was killed in a car accident, and his mother drank herself into a stupor that eventually left her dead. Lost and angry, Turk befriends followers of the Mitchums, learns the ways of white supremacists, and eventually marries into the Mitchum family. At the hospital with new baby Davis, the last thing Turk wants to see is nurse Ruth coming into the hospital room, examining his child and wife. As soon as she’s done, Davis’ file is slapped with a Post-it:

“NO AFRICAN-AMERICAN PERSONNEL TO CARE FOR THIS PATIENT.”

When baby Davis goes into cardiac arrest with only Ruth available to help, Ruth has to decide- disobey orders to try to save the baby’s life, or watch on as he’s unable to breathe and do nothing.

Following a typical Picoult plot, the situation plays out in court and the reader gets to see every facet of the argument with points of view from all the characters involved. I have always loved this about Picoult’s books, because she easily allows the reader to slip into the first person narrative from one character to the next. Reading from Ruth’s point of view, I find myself cringing at the blasé comments from Ruth’s white coworkers, and near tears when she is arrested maliciously in the middle of the night. Despite all that she has done to blend in, she still sticks out. She unknowingly surrounded herself with people in denial, not acceptance, of her color. When reading from Turk’s point of view, I absolutely despised him, even when I found that I was pitying him. His childhood was terrible, the situation with his son was terrible… but his anger and strife fueled hate, and he never sought to rise above, only to get even.

Throughout the novel, I can’t help but feel uncomfortable. I’m white, privileged, and one of those people who don’t like to ruffle feathers (so to speak), but I’m aware of the facts that others don’t have the same privileges I do because of the color of their skin. Yet, I haven’t gotten the courage to stand up against it- I’ve sat back and kept quiet in fear of sounding ignorant, naive, or racist, and that’s just as bad as encouraging it. Reading novels like this (or like this http://bit.ly/2voDbia ), makes me check my white privilege, and gives me the determination to discuss these issues, even when it makes me uncomfortable. As Picoult mentioned in her Author’s Note:

“Why was writing about a person of color any different? Because race is different. Racism is different. It’s fraught, and it’s hard to discuss, and so as a result we often don’t.”

These days, it’s easy enough to go on any social media outlet and find heated discussions on racism, but to actually discuss racism from an educational standpoint, without personal or political bias, is difficult. I applaud Picoult for encouraging these discussions in a thought-provoking manner, for writing this book, for helping others open their eyes and truly see color, rather than ignore it.

Small Great Things is absolutely a must read, and another that belongs on your bookshelves.