Date Published: 10/30/2018
Publisher: My Story Publishing
Most people think big girls have low self esteem and do not feel as sexy as the models with the perfect bodies that we constantly see on TV. I never knew there was anything wrong with me until I kept seeing people on TV telling me I was too fat, too sloppy and definitely ugly. Every commercial emphasizes the need to have that perfect plastic-factory body. While everyone think that fat is sloppy or unattractive, I have learned to embrace it. I choose to live my life fat, free and fabulous! And I am here to motivate you. Patrice Shavone Brown reveals her truth and secrets to being and becoming a proud fat girl. As you read this book, you will discover the confidence that you never thought you could have. Join the Confident Fat Girls Movement with Patrice. "Let's be the beauty they all said we could never be," she concludes.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
I really wanted to love this book. As a large woman who has struggled with an eating disorder and multiple medical problems since I was in my early teens, I am passionate about the topic of size prejudice. People think that it's perfectly okay to make the most horrible assumptions about fat people and, further, to say the most horrible things about fat people. I was forty-five years old before I discovered the concepts of size acceptance and health at every size and was able to develop enough self-respect that I will no longer allow people to treat me like garbage because of my size.
I agree with the author that it's ridiculous that we can't say "fat." Fat is used as an insult but it's actually a neutral quality like tall or middle-aged or dark-haired. People come in a variety of sizes and our bodies are the way they are for a variety of reasons, genetics being the main factor.
I agree with the author that we need to learn that we are allowed to like ourselves as we are and to care for ourselves. Nobody should be taught that their body is bad or wrong. Nobody should be shamed into hating themselves for their physique.
Part of my issue with the book boils down to personal preference. I am not the sort of person who wants to spend a lot of time pampering myself, applying lotions or cosmetics. I don't have a bathtub to soak in even if I felt like I could take the time to soak.
I can't use perfumes because I don't enjoy the asthma attacks that they provoke. I stopped wearing cosmetics years ago because they make my skin break out and exacerbate my eczema. I cut my own hair and I run a brush through it in the morning. I use silver hair dye once every few months to give my dull gray hair a bit of shine. I dress extremely casually and if people don't like what they see, they're welcome to look somewhere else.
On this account, the author and I are simply radically different kinds of people. She enjoys long soaks, perfumed lotions, and makeup. I do not. I don't think that either way is wrong, her way simply doesn't resonate with me. If this were my only issue with the book, I would have given it four stars and called it good, because the book is, overall, well-written.
However, it was dismaying to me to see body policing and food moralizing in a book where the stated mission is to inspire larger women to learn to accept and love their bodies.
Early on in the book, the author states that "fat is just one of the varieties of body types, just like we have fair or dark for skin color types."
Yes! I agree wholeheartedly with this statement.
However, she goes on to say that "Overweight, on the other hand, is a medical condition where you have outgrown the size your body can carry. It is a disorder. When overweight gets out of control, it becomes obesity. And my dear, trust me, you do not want to be obese."
This is a manifestation of the "good fatty/bad fatty" dichotomy. The "good fatty" is the fatty who tries, but they simply have the wrong set of genes to be svelte. The "good fatty" deserves a pass. The "bad fatty" is fat because she eats the wrong foods and doesn't try hard enough. The "bad fatty" has "allowed" herself to become unhealthy.
As Ragen Chastain of Dances with Fat (http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com) says, nobody owes it to anyone to live up to a certain definition of healthy. Ragen also states that people are allowed to do whatever they want when it comes to their own bodies, but they don't have a right to tell anyone else what they must do with theirs.
We do not know the exact reasons why a given person has the body that she does just by looking at her. We don't know what she eats or how much. We don't know if she exercises or how much. We don't know what medical conditions she has, either physical or psychological, and we don't know what medications she takes. Even if she really is "just a lazy slob" who won't stop stuffing her gob with "the wrong foods" (hint: nobody is that person) she still doesn't deserve to be treated poorly.
Poverty plays a significant role in the development of "obesity." (I despise that word but am using it here to illustrate a point.) So does dieting. Ragen Chastain also states that "whenever anyone claims to be studying the effects of having a fat body, they are also likely studying the effects of a lifetime of stigma and weight cycling."
Speaking from personal experience, dieting destroyed my metabolism. During the 33 years that I tried to hate myself thin, I am sure that I lost several hundred pounds. These pounds always returned with friends. I had to stop dieting to keep myself from gaining more weight. At this point, I can't lose weight even when I severely restrict my food intake.
As a fat person, I understand that every single one of us has had the message pounded down our throats by well-meaning and not-so-well-meaning health care professionals that our size is all our own doing and that being fat is the cause of all our problems. All we need to do is lose weight and every ill we have will magically be cured. Except that things really don't work that way.
It dismays me to see a fellow fat person reinforcing the double standard that on one hand it's okay to be fat as long as you're the right kind of fat, and if you're the right kind of fat you should love yourself as you are, but "overweight, on the other hand, is a medical condition where you have outgrown the size your body can carry."
Thus, the statement that "when overweight gets out of control, it becomes obesity. And my dear, trust me, you do not want to be obese" further reinforces the idea that there is a wrong kind of fat. This message is in direct conflict with the premise of the book: that women should be confident regardless of their size.
One thing that I have taken to heart in the years since I discovered size acceptance and health at every size is the fact that the word "obese" is a slur. It is belittling, othering, and it does no-one any good. The author and I seem to agree overall on this account.
I have been branded "obese." On a good day, my mantra is "eff 'em all," because barring a terminal illness, it is highly unlikely that I will ever be thin. I am disabled. If I have to walk for any significant distance, I use a walker. I try to walk a mile a day. I don't binge eat. As I live in poverty, I generally do not eat three meals a day.
Overall, I liked the author's writing style, but I couldn't get around the "good fatty/bad fatty" issue. I feel that the author would benefit from reading Health at Every Size by Dr. Linda Bacon to learn why it is important to end the idea that there are "good" bodies and "bad" bodies. There are simply bodies.
About the Author
Author of A Fat Girl's Confidence Guide, published by My Story Publishing Company, also the founder of the "Confident Fat Girls Movement"
Patrice Shavone Brown is a mother of two beautiful children. She is also the big sister of two siblings. Most of all she is "me."
She is a person that has had storms and mountains to climb. She is still climbing. Patrice lost her mom to cancer June 2017. She does not paint pretty pictures about her life or surroundings.
Helping people is at the heart of everything that Patrice does. She has spent the last two decades serving her community as a Mental Health Counselor. Her greatest satisfaction comes from empowering others and assisting in people's healing through the power of words.
"It's hard, yet life is what you make it. And it is full of twists and turns," says Patrice.
Patrice has owned and operated Restoring Bodies and Minds, restoringbodiesminds.org, for the past seven years. She's an over achiever. She likes to excel, and she has tremendous drive and determination. If at first you don't succeed, try again, is at her core.
Brown has also authored four books. Her books are based on her everyday life experiences. The titles are Secrets Of A Crazy Mental Health Counselor, The Day Momma Made Me Dance, We Blend Well Together, A Fat Girl's Confidence Guide, A Fat Girl's Confidence: Beating Depression and Building Self Esteem, The Finesser and The Finesser 2.
Patrice holds an MA, BA, and AAS. She is also an Anger Management Specialist
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