In an attempt to give myself some me-time, I’ve been trying to read more lately. I used to be a voracious reader and have a degree in English Lit. But after years working as a journalist and professional writer, which makes reading a little like work sometimes, and now in my perma-exhausted state of motherhood, I barely find time to shower every day (and sometimes I don’t), let alone time to sit down with a book. But, after too many days of my life being an endless repeat of feed toddler-clothe toddler-diapering-surviving marathon tantrums-dishes-laundry-vacuuming half a box of Cheerios off of the floor…. and find time to blog on two sites, be an activist, ponder the lack of progress on my manuscript… oh, and take a shower and get more than five hours of sleep a night (ha! as if!)…wait, did I forget to eat? Anyway, I decided it was time to re-engage with my old friend, reading.
Right now I am in the middle of two books (because one afternoon I was too lazy to go upstairs to my bedroom and get my original book). I am reading Samantha Bee’s I Know I am, But What Are You? and Jen Lancasters Such A Pretty Fat: One Narcissist’s Quest to Discover If Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big, or Why Pie Is Not the Answer. And then it happened. On the same day, I read a section from each book that dealt almost entirely about having a fat ass or being fat or trying not to be fat or some other version of female fat aversion and self-loathing.
Now, to be fair, Lancaster’s book is almost exclusively about being fat and dealing with being a fat woman in America. So, that comes with the territory. But what of Bee’s book? Or, for that matter, Tina Fey’s book (although she is very funny and feminist about it)? Or Kathy Griffin… Funny, I didn’t notice any chapters about having a fat ass in Michael J. Fox’s book Always Looking Up, Steve Martin’s Born Standing Up, or Russell Brand’s My Booky Wook. (Yes, I’ve been on a comedian/writer memoir kick.)
So, what gives, ladies?
Well, having done my fair share of obsessing about the thickness of certain body parts, I don’t think it takes much pop psychology to decipher what’s going on here. Yes, Virginia, females in America are indoctrinated from an early age to attain unrealistic beauty standards that aren’t even physically possible.
But as a writer, I’m still wondering, do we really need another chapter about how much we (women) hate our bodies? And as a feminist, I really wonder: How much more could we accomplish if we just stopped stressing about our body image? (Seriously!) And as the mother of a girl, I wonder when will it end?
Look, I know I’ve written my fair share about body issues, weight, and related tangents. I’m not perfect and I’m certainly not immune from the clutches of societal pressures. But this has certainly given me some (pardon the pun) food for thought as I work on my own book. And it’s made me think more about what we expect from women — even really smart, accomplished, funny, successful women. (Yes, I know I have a writer-crush on Tina Fey. Who doesn’t?!)
If nothing else, the wee free minutes we have in our busy lives that we might grant for the pleasure of reading doesn’t need to be hijacked by more bitching about fat. I’m over it!