I feel like I've been waiting foreeeeeeeeeeeeever to talk with you guys about this book. I'm an almost strictly non-fiction reader, but... this novel, y'all. I finished it way faster than I anticipated. Anyone else?
I think my job is to give you very organized personal thoughts on this book and then ask formal thought provoking questions that spur a fascinating discussion about said book in the comment section. I don't know if I'm capable of that. But what I AM capable of is bringing up the pieces that blew my hair back and ask for your thoughts on those. And then of course, opening the comment section for you to do the same! (I'm excited about that last part.)
(Do I have to tell you that there are spoilers below, or do people already know that shit? SPOILERS GUYS. IF YOU HAVEN'T READ IT THERE ARE SPOILERS DOWN THERE ˅˅˅˅.) Now, lets talk fiction.
My hair blowing Dietland items:
Baptist Weight Loss: I lost my shit when reading about Baptist Weight Loss. My partner and I were in Phoenix over the weekend when I grabbed a vodka tonic and sat down to read. This book completely took over the night because: while reading the description of the Baptist commercials, my logical and educated brain was thinking Who in their right fucking mind falls for this shit? And then I remembered: I totally did.
When I was 14, I joined "Weigh Down Workshop" with my grandma, aunt and mother. We went to the weekly meetings. We watched every VHS episode. We bought the booklets and did the homework. I did the WHOLE SHEBANG for years guys... and god damn, if I didn't suppress those memories. There was was so much failure, confusion, guilt and shame so that's not really surprising. but I don't know if I would have ever remembered that part of my life... if it wasn't for fucking Dietland.
Thanks to the jogging of these memories, the book (plus vodka, lets be real) had me running to find my computer so I could show my partner old videos of Gwen Shamblin (my Eulayla) and her 90's suit jackets, southern drawl and giant hair.
QUESTION: Did you ever participate in anything like this? Has everyone tried it, and we just don't talk about it? Or is everyone talking about it without me?
Jennifer: I don't know how to feel about Jennifer. Like, can't type a paragraph about it because I only have questions.
QUESTION(S): Was Jennifer needed? Were her/their actions okay? Was it the right approach? Do horrible humans deserve retaliation? Is the world better without them? Doesn't Luz deserve justice? What is too much? What is not enough? How should justice work in these fucking horrible situations?
Internalized anger: Honestly, the above quote is what sealed the deal for me when I decided to post Dietland as August's choice. This quote and the fact that some of you brilliant people recommended it. I find this social check-in so fascinating, and even though it kinda seems obvious... it seemed even more poignant after reading the book.
QUESTION: Do you experience this above phenomenon? Do you see it in others? What do you think about the concept in general?
Real life harassment: I became really paranoid about the fact that Plum experienced so much face to face hate. Plum talked about how she was able to see the world for what it truly was; Alicia would have only seen the superficial side. Because I don't experience people shit talking to my face, I felt like maybe I was simply naive and unaware. But honestly- fat girls are anything but naive and unaware about what the world thinks and says about their body. So that wasn't it. But even still, I don't experience the day to day harassment in real life like Plum and many others do.
If I had to guess why, I would have to assume: 1.) I live in a liberal part of a not-giant city and 2.) I carry myself confidently and this deters a lot of harassment. I've been told many times that by taking up space, walking unapologetically, AND having tattoos... this makes me at first glance, intimidating to those who don't know me. I can only guess that this must play some part in the fact that people don't fat shame me to my face.
But even still, for weeks afterwards, I kept looking over my shoulder to see if people were going to. I know they do in secret, with their friends, and on the internet... but they still didn't to this sexy mug. Once, in NYC a couple of years ago I was walking home from a Greenwich Village bar and a taxi driver yelled "WHAT UP FAT GIRL!" I flipped him off and told him to go fuck himself. That's pretty much the last time I remember being fat shamed to my face.
QUESTION: Do you get body shamed in real life? Do people make comments to you in person? Do you identify more with Plum or Alicia? Tell me your experiences or lack thereof.
And a few more short Qs:
QUESTION: I also want to know your thoughts on the porn room.
LAST QUESTION: Who was your favorite character?
Over all, did you like it? Did you identify with it? For non-fat identified folks what did YOU think? I'm SO curious to hear how you felt about something that covered so many feminist and body image issues!
Feel free to leave all thoughts and OTHER questions that I missed (there is so much to be discussed!) below (not on FB- they get lost). AND DON'T FORGET: Next month's book is Fat Girl Walking and I think it's gonna be a good one.
Lets chat, bitches.