*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Author: Jes Baker
Publisher: Seal Press
Publication Date: May 8, 2018
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Jes Baker burst onto the body positivity scene when she created her own ads mocking Abercrombie & Fitch for discriminating against all body types–a move that landed her on the TodayShow and garnered a loyal following for her raw, honest, and attitude-filled blog missives. Building on the manifesta power of Things, this memoir goes deeply into Jes’s inner life, from growing up a fat girl to dating while fat. With material that will have readers laughing and crying along with Jes’s experience, this new book is a natural fit with her irreverent, open-book style. A deeply personal take, Landwhale is a glimpse at life as a fat woman today, but it’s also a reflection of the unforgiving ways our culture still treats fatness, all with Jes’s biting voice as the guide.
This memoir is a personal look of Jes Baker’s inner monologue and her experience with her perception in the world as someone who’s overweight, and who continues to gain more and more weight the older she gets. She struggles with diets from a young age and seeks love and acceptance as a young woman, finding it least of all with herself. Her stories hone in on what society says she should be and how she should appear, and despite many efforts to conform to that standard, she learns to love herself just as she is. She learns to see that she is beautiful and worthy of love and acceptance. What I really loved about Landwhale is it’s loud cry for body positivity and self acceptance. Jes is snarky and blunt in her delivery of her memories.
This book didn’t make me laugh, but it was certainly amusing as well as moving in it’s perception of others’ judgements and assumptions about Jes, her life, and her body. She dives into her relationship with Mormonism and a father that held her to such high standards in terms of her physique that it created a body dysmorphic-esque perception of herself. She also confronts her sexual encounters in a humorous, but up-front manner. Her stories about her current kind and loving partner are hilarious! She doesn’t shy away from the nitty gritty details, because it’s exactly those details that outline how someone who is considered “fat” is perceived. We live in a world where fat shaming is a common occurrence, and men and women alike are taught to shame their bodies if they don’t fit into this cultural standard of beauty. Jes’s story is one of liberation and self-assurance. Her message to the reader is that it’s ok to love your body and to be happy with how you are.
What I did struggle with in this book is that I absolutely loved the message of loving yourself at any size–everyone is beautiful, but I also feel strongly about the importance of working to take care of yourself. I’ve struggled with my weight and my body image for most of my life, but I’ve always strived to take care of my body. I will never be tall or thin–curves are a very real part of my life–but I try to remain healthy above all; to splurge and treat myself and to enjoy life, but also to make decisions that will hopefully help me health-wise later on. I admire Jes’s courage and her confidence. I wish I could be have the same level of direct bravery that she conveys. And I love that she preaches to embrace kindness and love for oneself. I don’t believe that self-acceptance and healthy living are mutually exclusive. They can co-exist together and it’s ok to love yourself and make decisions that honour your body.