FAT GIRL WALKING: Sex, Food, Love and Being Comfortable in Your Skin…Every Inch of It
by Brittany Gibbons
(May 19, 2015; Hardcover; $24.99; ISBN: 9780062343031; E-Book ISBN: 9780062343055).
In FAT GIRL WALKING, Brittany—acclaimed blogger and body image advocate—shares the often funny and often painful true stories of her life as an overweight girl growing up in the Midwest. From coping with mental illness and obesity in her family, to her struggles with dating (it’s hard—no matter your size!), dealing with anxiety issues that forced her to drop out of college, falling in love, getting married, having three children, battling with bulimia, launching a successful writing career, and to finally getting the confidence to say goodbye to diets and body hating for good, Brittany’s new memoir is a soul-baring account of her quest to learn to love her shape.
Brittany admits that for all of the hobbies she has picked up and put down over the years, body hating has been her most dedicated and consistent. But when her young daughter started holding her stomach in the mirror and imitating her mom, she realized something needed to change. Brittany had no idea what to do first, only that she knew she had been ignoring all of the amazing things she had achieved in her life despite her size.
She began to change her perspective by making a pledge to tell herself three things she liked about her body every day, no matter how awkward it seemed. She bought clothes to actually fit her body shape—not the size on the label—and actively stopped glorifying women (in her head and in her writing) as “beautiful” only if they were also thin. That adjective became the last thing Brittany decided she would say to her daughter after brilliant, hilarious, curious, creative, and daring. Brittany also started to recognize that her “flabby parts aren’t problem areas; they’re parts of a scrapbook” a scrapbook that contains memories of places she’s been, meals she enjoyed with loved ones, and the amazing children she has had.
Soon, she took her new powerful outlook to Times Square and stripped down to her bathing suit for a national women’s body image campaign and then did it again during a TEDx Talk in 2011 on a journey to start changing the societal conversation about body image. “I saw this as a chance to become a point of reference and authority for plus-size women online…Plus-size people were often portrayed in society as villains. We affected your health-care costs with our diabetes and our heart attacks. We all wanted gastric bypass and lap-band surgery as an easy way out. We were eating all the fast food from the dollar menu. We were lazy, lacked self-control, and were unpleasant to look at. We were an epidemic.”
Today on her successful blog, www.brittanyherself.com, fat shaming is all too real amongst the anonymity of the internet. Instead of being beaten down by it, she’s come to realize that people are allowed to say whatever they want about her weight but it’s entirely up to her how much power she lets those words have. In FAT GIRL WALKING, Brittany wants readers to learn that despite our background, upbringing and thoughts we have about ourselves, we are ultimately in charge of providing the narrative for how other people perceive us. “People treat me like a sexy and confident woman because I act like a sexy and confident woman; my behavior doesn’t give them any other options.”
FAT GIRL WALKING is not a diet book. It’s not one of those memoirs about how someone battled, and won, the fight against fat. Instead, it is a book that reminds us all that being chubby doesn’t mean you’ll end up alone, unhappy, or the subject of a cable medical show. Learning to love your shape is the important step of learning to live a life of the same joy, heartbreak, oddity, awkwardness and wonder as anyone else. Just with better snacks.
REVIEW:In this day and age, it is so damn hard to love yourself. We get told everyday in movies, magazines, and life in general on how to look. Being a girl who has struggled with self esteem issues and depression...well let's just say the media never helped my thinking. Obviously if I wasn't a size zero than something must be wrong with me. Am I right? You know what I am talking about; the kind of perfection that society shoves down our throats. Well I've got news for you guys! Who the hell cares what they think!
Brittany has written a book about what it means to love yourself and all the flaws that make you, well you. Yes, ALL THE FLAWS. Let's face it everyone has them. Back in the summer before my seventh grade year, I went to church camp. It would be my first year ever going and I couldn't be more excited. I got to be away from my mom for three whole days! That's like forever when you're a kid. Anyways, everything was going just fine; we told scary ghost stories, played lots of fun games, talked about God, and one word - swimming. Yes, swimming was a huge highlight for me at girls came. See, it was in the pool that I broke my nose. How you might ask? I was just minding my own business swimming with my shark-like goggles when a girl jump into the pull right on top of me. The impact not only broke the goggles but my nose as well. I didn't even cry! I calmly got out of the pool and went to lay down in my bunk.
It wasn't until the end of the three days when my parents went to pick me up, that they noticed my nose looked crooked. I ended up going to a doctor who later did surgery to fix it. Needless to say, the surgery didn't work or whatever. My nose still looked crooked. And that my friends is the first time I have ever openly admitted my nose is less than perfect. Usually the only time I admit it, is if someone asks me outright. Why am I telling you this? Well if Brittany is brave enough to go and put herself out there by showing the world that plus size women are beautiful too. Then I can admit that my broken nose doesn't define me. It's just something part of me that makes me unique.
I'm not going to lie. Before I was contacted review this book, I had no idea who Brittany was. I wish I knew about her sooner because just reading her book has helped me in so many ways already. It's nice to see someone be real that's also an advocate for such a great cause. So many women out there need to know that they are beautiful, even me. It's hard though. Sometimes I feel alone and wonder if anyone out there has ever felt the way I have. Looking in the mirror is like a form of torture. I have in my head the way I want to and am supposed to look. Then I look in the mirror and bam! It's like why me! Why couldn't I have looked like one of those beautiful Victoria Secret models?
And see where I am going? This is how it is on a daily. I find a wonderful book such as Fat Girl Walking; I read it and know I'm not alone. Then that doubt starts creeping in. It's a never ending cycle. Okay, I need to stop. I don't want this to turn into some preachy blog post. My whole point out of all of this, is that I loved the book. I loved catching a glimpse into Brittany's life, her many struggles, and of course her beautiful success. The success of learning to love the skin she is in. Ever inch of it!
Women around the world. Let's start picking each other up instead of shaming. Sharing what we think is beautiful about ourselves instead of the negative. (Like me with my doubts about everything. But if we're being honest here it's probably the depression talking.) Please do yourself a favor and pick this beauty up. You won't regret it. This is for the ones who need a good laugh with an equally good cry. Love yourself! Even when you don't think you can.
*Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own
Excerpt: from Chapter 13:NOW WHAT?
My fitness and body aspirations at thirty are different from my aspirations at twenty. At twenty, I just assumed I’d work out until I was so tiny, people became concerned for my health and I’d roll my eyes at them from my Victoria’s Secret bras and Abercrombie jeans. Now I just want to maintain my current weight so I don’t need to buy new clothes. When you look at weight loss, it’s often clothing driven.
Weddings, vacations, and high school reunions, all things you are supposed to be thin for. But what if you have a gorgeous wedding dress in your current size, loads of flattering bathing suits, and a killer pair of jeans? Starving myself has suddenly become a moot point. I have options; I’m no longer a fashion pariah. So where does that leave my weight? Well, unless I’m sitting atop you, what I weigh is really none of your business.
I like to put good food in my mouth, and while I am aware of the calories I ingest, instead of cutting them I make them count. I have a full-on love affair with food, appreciating the different cultures and processes within it. In fact, I take entire vacations around eating. It’s how I remember where I’ve been; I’ve either eaten, thrown up, or started my period without the proper supplies there.
Beignets with my best friend in New Orleans. Too much rum on the beaches of Playa del Carmen on our second honeymoon. Orlando, Florida, the city of emergency men’s tube sock maxi-pads.
You see, these flabby parts aren’t problem areas; they’re parts of a scrapbook.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
BRITTANY GIBBONS is a humorist, internet personality, model and nationally recognized positive body image advocate. She began her blog www.BrittanyHerself.com in 2007, and later founded the magazine, CurvyGirlGuide.com, and she hosts “Last Call Brittany,” a weekly Google talk show. She lives in Toledo, Ohio with her husband and three small children.
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