Fat and Not Afraid

Respect and love are for EVERY body.

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Book Review: Read My Hips!

May 31, 2011

Goodmorning, Fatosphere! Today's the day I shall finally indulge you with my book review for Kim Brittingham's "Read My Hips: How I Learned to Love My Body, Ditch Dieting and Live Large". Sorry for the delay but finishing has been difficult with not having a lot of time to sit and just read.  I'm going to divide this into three parts; the technical (I am an English major afterall and I really can't help myself), the not so good and the best.  Why not finish on a high note, right?  Grab your favorite beverage and get comfy!

First of all, the book is a pleasant length; at 220 pages it's not overwhelmingly long with every detail of Kim's life out there for us to read and not so short as to leave out anything important.  The peices are short and snappy, keeping me interested and flipping pages long after my lunch break was over. It is obvious from the way the book is put together (3 sections titled Ditching Dieting, Loving My Body and Living Large) that Kim is using some previously publishes or written material from her essays at iVillage and other websites and blogs.  This is alright except in that it makes the flow of the narrative not very smooth and some key ideas are repeated more than they really need to be.  Finally, Kim has a friendly, open 'voice' while you're reading and she conveys situations and people so well that you feel like you're really in the room with her at "Edie's Eaties" confronting an angry boss or in the car as she and her family drives away from her beloved grandmother.

Interestingly, there is a disclaimer at the front that assures us that Kim can indeed recall conversations near verbatim from 3 decades ago and that all the stories are 'true'.  When I read that I was reminded of something an Anishninabe Ojibwe Elder told me while we  were discussing creation stories. He said that all creation stories are true. I balked, thinking um, no, the world doesn't REALLY rest on the back of a giant turtle.  Through further discussions (and shutting up and listening/leaving my privileged white girl at the door!) I realized he wasn't saying that all creation stories are literally true, but that they all contain truth for whoever hears them.  This is very much the case in Read My Hips; there is something for everyone who's on their fat-acceptance journey, from the most newbie FA 101 seeker to the oldest, hardened blogger.

My only complaints about this work have already been mentioned; a lack of flow and/or disjointedness in the telling of events, and the repetition of certain ideas.  There were times when I would put it down for a break and say to myself "Ok, Kim, we get it. Self love comes from the INSIDE. Move along!" I found myself wanting to hear more about her living her life post-acceptance (as if such a thing really exists, a destination instead of a journey), instead of the steps she took to get there, especially since sometimes it was two steps forward and one back.  That's more on me, however, as I am a story hound and like things linear.  I also found some of the sections dealing with her sexual encounters to be over the top but again, that's on me, that's MY bias and I think it was brave and wonderful for her to write them in. MY baggage is not HER fault and I recognized that after again, putting the book down and mulling things over. 

Ok, onwards to the best part; the best parts!  This book literally had me laughing outloud and/or grinning more often than not.  Kim writes her experiences in a fresh and bold way, not shocking, and you just want to give her a hug or a high five at times.  The first page I dog-eared (don't judge me!) was pg 73 for the 3 middle paragraphs, but especially the 3rd.  It reads, in part: Don't let them slap you on the wrist and tell you you're a bad girl for eating.  Don't buy into the idea that strong, successful people must always prove strength by winning a battle over food and/or focusing their energy on sculpting a particular kind of body. And don't let them tell you to "come back later" for acceptance. You're just as valuable a human being now as you might be fifty pounds from now. Accept no other message!  This from a voice inside us that Kim describes as "the rabid defender of our well-being", that voice so many of us learn to ignore or gets drowned out by the negative messages. 

When learning about the joy of food and cooking, Kim waxes poetically about pumpkins and squashes, sharing with us her joy in feeling energized, serene, clear and positive now that she's discovered fruits and vegetables.  This toes gently into 'good fatty' territory but that's not the point; Kim has realized she feels better when she eats a certain way and so that's how she eats.  That's intuitive eating right there, giving her body what it asks for and pounds on the scale be damned. Page 91, the 'twins' she's carring are named Ben and Jerry, shocking nosy people who assume she's pregnant thanks to her size.  I laughed out loud, scaring my cats.  There are so many other passages I want to share with you, thoughts on love and perfection, families, all the parts the really spoke to me, someone who is still feeling like she's at the beginning of her FA journey.  But I wont, because you need to go and get a copy of this book for yourself right now!  Enjoy and tell me what you think of it, what parts speak to YOU, what parts made you laugh or cry, which ones make you want to stand up and yell RIGHT ON, KIM! Right on.

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