Review: “The (Other) F Word: A Celebration of the Fat and Fierce” edited by Angie Manfredi

OtherFWord-feat

Release Date: September 24, 2019
Publisher: Amulet Books
Genre: Non-Fiction, Young Adult

 

Description

“Chubby. Curvy. Fluffy. Plus-size. Thick. Fat. The time has come for fat people to tell their own stories. The (Other) F Word combines personal essays, prose, poetry, fashion tips, and art to create a relatable and attractive guide about body image and body positivity. This YA crossover anthology is meant for people of all sizes who desire to be seen and heard in a culture consumed by a narrow definition of beauty. By combining the talents of renowned fat YA and middle-grade authors, as well as fat influencers and creators, The (Other) F Word offers teen readers and activists of all ages a guide for navigating our world with confidence and courage.”

 

My Thoughts

OtherFWord-coverI want to preface this by saying that I am a thin person and am not the target demographic for this collection. I’m also friends with the brilliant librarian who put this whole thing together. However, I’d urge you to not be skeptical of this super positive review. Because I really did love this anthology.

This collection includes pieces by Rachelle Abellar, Lily Anderson, Jes Baker, Shelby Bergen, David Bowles, Mason Deaver, Ady Del Valle, Evette Dionne, Corissa Enneking, Alex Gino, Jonathan P. Higgins, Sarah Hollowell, Samantha Irby, P. S. Kaguya, Jiji Knight, S. Qiouyi Lu, Hillary Monahan, Miguel M. Morales, Julie Murphy, Isabel Quintero, Adrianne Russell, Jana Schmieding, Amy Spalding, Laina Spencer, Mel Stringer, Bruce Sturgell, Virgie Tovar, Jess Walton, Renée Watson, and Saucye West.

What stood out to me the most was the intentionality behind the arrangement. All too often, anthologies are dominated by cishet white voices, with everyone else having to split a few token spots. And even though I should have known better given that Angie is a dedicated ally and proponent of diversity, I still went into The (Other) F Word expecting the first several voices to be cishet and white. But instead, this anthology is diverse and inclusive in a true and deeply meaningful way.

On top of that, the conversations each author has with the reader is different and earnest. There is no sugarcoating, no trite body positive messaging, just honest talk about the unique ways each author experiences being fat in a world determined to make them feel bad about it. While I can’t relate to being fat, I spent most of my teens and twenties hating my body because I didn’t fit the impossible standards of American society. I crash dieted, I starved myself, I spent hours in the gym, I took diet pills, I considered liposuction and plastic surgery, I did Weight Watchers, you name it and I probably attempted it at least once. Not until my thirties did I finally get comfortable with my body, although I still find myself occasionally falling back into old habits. I don’t love my body (nor do I feel the need to), but I like it. It’s mine. And I don’t need it to adhere to anyone’s rules but my own. That message runs throughout The (Other) F Word. As someone who works with teenagers every day, they really need to hear that.

If you are a librarian, you absolutely must buy this book. Your fat teens (and fat adults!) desperately need this book. And for everyone else, move this to the top of your TBR ASAP.

 

Dear Reader,

Your body is perfect. Yes, yours. Exactly the way it is, right now in this second.

That’s the first thing I want everyone who picks up this book to know. But especially all the fat readers. This book is a love letter for you and a guidebook on how to navigate this world…and maybe even a blueprint for how to change it.

There are so many moments in your life as a fat person that are burned into your brain: the first time you awkwardly pulled down a shirt to cover yourself up on the beach when everyone else was pulling clothes off, the first time you heard a skinny friend call themselves FAT like it was the worst thing they could possibly be, the first time you went into a store and realized that even their “plus” size section didn’t have anything that would fit you, the first time someone who cared about you said something about how much prettier/more handsome you would look if you were just a few pounds lighter. Now imagine you’ve had all those experiences – and more – before you even turn 18. Many of you have lived that and much worse. And many of you are living through hard times right now. And I want you to know that so many people understand how it can be so hard and so lonely.

But there’s another moment more and more fat people are getting to experience: the first moment they realize there’s nothing wrong with being fat.

 

Review copy acquired at ALA.

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