I have TWO recommendations for fat positive media! I am so excited to have something great to say about a book and a movie I absolutely loved.
First- Dietland by Sarai Walker.
From the summary on Amazon-- "Plum Kettle does her best not to be noticed, because when you’re fat, to be noticed is to be judged. Or mocked. Or worse. With her job answering fan mail for a popular teen girls’ magazine, she is biding her time until her weight-loss surgery. Only then can her true life as a thin person finally begin.
But when Plum notices she’s being followed by a mysterious woman in colorful tights and combat boots, she finds herself falling down a rabbit hole into the world of Calliope House, a community of women who live life on their own terms."
I'm going to give away slightly more of the plot than this summary does- so be warned. But I feel like I have to, in order to explain why I am so excited about this novel. So if you want to be completed unspoiled- buy the book and skip ahead to my review of Spy.
I didn't know how badly I wanted to read a book like this one, until I had. I was excited even in the first few pages, because Sarai's observations of the life of a very fat woman are so sharp and poignant.
Plum is caught by the fat hatred she has internalized- suspended and trapped, while the world moves on without her. I loved and identified with her as she began to rage at the systems of fat hatred and the objectification of women's bodies are made clear to her- turning her pain into rage, making the inwards, outwards. She learns to put that rage where it belongs- on a world that treats her like garbage.
Additionally, there is a female guerilla terrorist organization called Jennifer who is taking violent revenge on misogynists and rapists.
If you follow me on Twitter and saw my glee at the plot of the latest Mad Max movie- you will know that I am extremely excited about the idea of reversing the typical gender roles of violent action movies and other violent genre stories- where men are the heroes and women are the victimized.
Dietland is an explicitly feminist take on some of the basic plot points of Fight Club. I think the disgusting violent misogyny and objectification of women that is everywhere and unescapable in our world is a much more compelling call to violent guerilla action than the thwarted white man entitlement of Fight Club.
What if Tyler Durden was a girl and instead of punching other dudes, she murdered rapists-- that's an idea that is compelling as shit to me. Like- you could do a thousand variations on this theme, and I'd be thrilled with every single one of them.
This book is amazing. It's also violent as hell, discusses the hatred and pain of fat women, and discusses rape. It's dark. Be warned.
It's also stylish as hell and sharp as a razor.
There's a couple of places where the politics don't exactly match up completely with my personal politics, but y'all. A couple of places here and there is a sight lot better than most of the media entertainment I consume. If I waited until I had politically perfect media to consume, I would die of old age and boredom first. I mean, I am still watching Game of Thrones, which is pretty much the definition of politically indefensible.
If this sounds good to you-- buy it! Read it! Read it so we can talk about it!!
Ok, so let's talk about Spy, which is a takeoff on spy movies, largely Bond ones, by Melissa McCarthy and Paul Feig.
I LOVED this movie. I loved Melissa McCarthy in it, and I loved how deftly it skewers the assumptions about fat women- the low expectations of our worth and abilities.
The movie never once even uses the word "fat". There are no fat jokes about Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy's character), except in the assumptions made about her by other people. The movie clearly thinks the people making those assumptions are buffoons (when they aren't outright evil).
Susan is given a low expectations assignment with an unattractive negative stereotype as her disguise. But she is capable of so much more, and the movie really gets going when she breaks free of this stereotype and blazes her own path.
She gets more and more glam as the movie goes on and has properly action hero style action scenes! I wanted to scream with happiness, to see a woman of her size doing action chases and fighting-- and I don't find it played for laughs, because she is the most capable person on the team.
Caveat- there are basically zero people of color in this movie, except one guy who we never get the name of who is in one scene, and 50 Cent, who plays himself for a tiny role.
I wish they hadn't done that, but they did. Also, there are a couple of poop jokes I could have personally done without, since I don't like poop jokes. (Too gross.)
But I would totally recommend Spy, and I'm hoping to see it again soon.
This makes me even more excited for Lady Ghostbusters, y'all. OMG.