Landwhale: On Turning Insults Into Nicknames, Why Body Image Is Hard, and How Diets Can Kiss My Ass

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For years, Jes Baker took to her blog to rage against unrealistic beauty standards, the struggles of being plus-sized in an average-sized world, and, occasionally, to share a recipe. Since the “Attractive and Fat” photo shoot she did parodying Abercrombie & Fitch ads in 2013, Baker has become a nationally recognized name in body acceptance, body positivity, and self-image circles.

Landwhale is Baker’s second book, and it is brilliant. She reaches back to her childhood, names she’s been called over the years, her difficult relationship with her father, and an unsettling attempt at a Harry Potter ride to reveal what it means to be plus-sized and, more importantly, what it means to be human. The book rails against diets, advocating instead for body acceptance, while also detailing Baker’s relationship with her husband, Andy, and delving into her health issues, most notably Bipolar Disorder, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), and PTSD.

What resonates most about Landwhale , though, is Baker’s unflinching honesty. As she relates telling her therapist about a particularly vitriolic thread about her online, Baker reveals what most of us never have to encounter: a life held up to public scrutiny because she shares who she is in a very public way online. The story she relates is about a group of people virtually tearing her apart after a visit to her local Trader Joe’s. They refer to her as “it,” judge the food she is purchasing, and conclude that, due to her size, she will die. In a clever footnote, she wonders if thin people are immortal.

It is clear humor is a defense for Baker, but it isn’t a crutch. It keeps her from being crushed beneath the weight of judgment from people with nothing better to do than critique others to make themselves feel better. As her therapist says, those people are “sick.” Thin, yes. Possibly physically healthy, sure. But emotionally sick, which leads to the great takeaway from the book itself: being happy isn’t about a number on a scale or a dress size, it is being loved, being joyful, and being proud of who you are.

Reviewed By:

Author Jes Baker
Star Count 5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 272 pages
Publisher Seal Press
Publish Date 2018-May-08
ISBN 9781580056816
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue June 2018
Category Biographies & Memoirs


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