Thank you to EntangledTeen for inviting me to take part in The Sound of Us Body Positivity Blog Series in conjunction with the release of Julie Hammerle’s excellent novel The Sound of Us. You can see my review of The Sound of Us here.
As I mentioned in my review, Kiki uttered one phrase that resonated with me and I imagine with a lot of women in their teenage years: “too fat to be thin and too thin to be fat.”
For a good portion of my teenage years I was that girl, the in-between girl. But I was also an athlete so it didn’t bother me to be an in-between girl. I ran and worked out too much to be really chubby. I ate what I wanted and didn’t care how anyone regarded me as long as I could perform in whatever sport I was playing. And then during a high school softball game, I tore my ACL.
To say that that changed my life would be an understatement. The girl who was used to running, throwing, jumping, sliding was now hobbling around on crutches, eating the same way she always did and gaining pound after pound. I tipped the scales 40-50 pounds heavier when I entered college. Forget the Freshman Fifteen. I already had them.
My outlook changed and my confidence took a nosedive. But, you know, sometimes, even though you don’t feel so great about yourself, someone else can sometimes see you better and I remember my surprise (incredulity? stupefaction?) when a quirky Junior, who evidently learned to whisper in drama class, said to his friend: she’s beautiful.
Eventually I lost the weight that I had gained by running almost everyday and then by playing tennis, but I never became a really thin woman–and I accept that I never will. It’s not always so easy for other people to accept that about you, though. I had a boyfriend who, despite the fact that I was healthy and had no difficulties keeping up with him on hikes or on the tennis court, told me I wasn’t skinny enough and should lose weight. Needless to say, he and I didn’t last long. Who needs that kind of negativity in your life?
So this is why I identified with Kiki. I felt like she accepted herself physically as she was and didn’t dwell on it. Yay, Kiki!
Here’s a short list of my favorite novels, YA and Chick Lit, in no particular order, with heroines who are not candidates for the Brandy Melville club but are happy with themselves anyway.
- Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy. From Goodreads: “Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body.”
- The DUFF by Kody Keplinger. From Goodreads: “Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper is cynical and loyal, and she doesn’t think she’s the prettiest of her friends by a long shot. She’s also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush. In fact, Bianca hates him. And when he nicknames her “the Duff,” she throws her Coke in his face.”
- Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding. From Goodreads: “Meet Bridget Jones—a 30-something Singleton who is certain she would have all the answers if she could:
a. lose 7 pounds b. stop smoking c. develop Inner Poise”
- Size 12 Is Not Fat by Meg Cabot. From Goodreads: “Heather Wells Rocks! Or, at least, she did. That was before she left the pop-idol life behind after she gained a dress size or two — and lost a boyfriend, a recording contract, and her life savings (when Mom took the money and ran off to Argentina). Now that the glamour and glory days of endless mall appearances are in the past, Heather’s perfectly happy with her new size 12 shape (the average for the American woman!) and her new job as an assistant dorm director at one of New York’s top colleges.”
- Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie. From Goodreads: “Minerva Dobbs knows that happily-ever-after is a fairy tale, especially with a man who asked her to dinner to win a bet. Even if he is gorgeous and successful Calvin Morrisey. Cal knows commitment is impossible, especially with a woman as cranky as Min Dobbs. Even if she does wear great shoes and keeps him on his toes.”
These are just a few of my favorites. If you care to, share yours in the comments. I’d love to hear about them–and probably add them to my TBR pile.