It’s the most confusing time of the year! It’s that time of year where, within the span of one month, we are expected to make an effortless one-eighty from freely indulging in holiday treats to new year’s resolutions to shred and shed and drop those pounds. If you’re seeking a refreshing alternative to the bombardment of unsolicited weight loss advice from social media, your mom’s cousin, that man in line behind you at the grocery store, etc., take a look at these nonfiction picks. Ranging from comedic to heart wrenching takes, these authors explore the power in reclaiming one’s body from the tyranny of fatphobia and redefine what a healthy society means. Happy Winter Reading!
Roxane Gay (Bad Feminist, Difficult Women) takes her writing to a new level in her memoir. Hunger is a beautiful and brutal account of how trauma, fatness, relationships, and family have shaped her self-image. Hunger has received several awards and critics’ praises. In graphic detail, Gay connects the trauma of her childhood rape to the relentless projection of worthlessness she receives as a fat, queer, Black woman in society, academia, and within her own family. Gay’s chapters are succinct and can feel like a punch in the gut. Gay’s truths are as witty as they are powerful and unapologetic.
Samantha Irby (Meaty and Bitches Gotta Eat blog) knows sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying. We are Never Meeting in Real Life: Essays is another one of this year’s most celebrated books. Irby’s writing seamlessly interweaves humor and raw honesty about being fat, disabled, Black, and queer. The essay collection examines failed relationships, failed budgets, failed Bachelorette applications, the pleasant monotony of life with a partner, and a hilarious, antagonistic relationship with her rescue cat, Helen. Helen’s jabs throughout the book reinforce Irby’s hilarious, authentic, and satirically self-deprecating voice.
Jes Baker is a body positive advocate who offers a convenient and empowering how-to handbook for embracing one’s body, curating fat positive social media feeds, practicing healthy self care, and re-imagining body image all together.
Vulnerable, hilarious, provocative, and enlightening are just a few words to describe comedian Lindy West’s Shrill. West’s defiant fat feminist activism didn’t always come so naturally. West shares her journey of self-awareness and being visible in a world where women are instructed to shrink themselves.
Science journalist Harriet Brown (Brave Girl Eating) debunks the mythology of obesity and offers a nuanced scientific and historical analysis of fatphobia. This book combines the personal, political, and scientific, as Brown engages with her own body struggles and interrogates our culture’s acceptance of medical inaccuracies due to an irrational fear of fat.