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review 2017-09-16 00:07
Self-deprecation at its best
One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter: Essays - Scaachi Koul

I first heard about Scaachi Koul's One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter several months ago on BookTube (I will continue to sing its praises) and added it to my TRL as I felt the need to read more Canadian authors. This book is a collection of essays about Scaachi's life growing up as a child of Indian immigrants in Canada. There's a focus on body positivity, feminism, and the endemic racism she and other people of color face in that country. She discusses her family and how she is the direct product of two disparate parenting philosophies. (Each chapter begins with an email conversation between herself and her father. He's quite possibly the funniest man on planet earth.) She's deeply afraid of going outside of her comfort zone and yet she's in a relationship with a man who seems to do nothing but push her to do just that. (I thought I had travel anxiety until I read about her experiences flying.) It's a look into a family as different and yet somehow the same as mine or yours. There's always going to be some neuroses in any family. It's about self-discovery, self-love, and ultimately self-acceptance. It was a lot of fun but judging from the fact that I had to refresh my memory by looking up the blurb it isn't the most memorable book I've had the pleasure of reading this year. So I'm gonna give it a 6/10. 

 

A/N: I really need to start making detailed notes about the books I've read immediately after reading them because my backlog of book reviews is getting more and more lengthy. Stay tuned for a special post on Tuesday by the way. ;-)

 

Source: Amazon

 

What's Up Next: Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Woolly: The True Story of the Quest to Revive One of History's Most Iconic Extinct Creatures by Ben Mezrich

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2016-12-27 17:37
I wasn't even that surprised
The Princess Diarist - Carrie Fisher

I have to be honest...Carrie Fisher's The Princess Diarist was a bit of a letdown. When I saw that she'd come out with a book with excerpts from her diaries written during the making of Star Wars I was SO excited. The punny title, the front cover with that iconic hair, and the premise had me immediately adding it to my library hold list. It turns out that this is not a book that keeps you on the edge of your seat or makes you feel as if you've learned something monumental about the person who is writing the book. The book focuses on one subject and sticks to that ad nauseum throughout. And the worst thing was that it wasn't even that earth-shattering. For me, the best part was when Fisher talked about her relationship with the Star Wars franchise after so many years and how she's had to navigate the world of fandom. I always find that so interesting because for celebs it has to be like moving through an alien landscape. (Now that is a book I'd like to read.) Strangely enough, this experience hasn't deterred me from adding her other book, Wishful Drinking, to my TRL. Hopefully, that one will be on the blog in 2017. XD This one gets a 4/10.

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2016-06-21 17:29
Dear Caitlin, I love you.
How to Be a Woman - Caitlin Moran

How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran was the April book from the feminist book club on Goodreads called Our Shared Shelf started by Emma Watson. I am continually thankful for this book group as it has really opened my horizons to some truly fantastic and interesting books that I don't know I would have necessarily picked up on my own. I had heard SO much about this book in particular that I was starting to wonder if it was fated for me to read it. Yes, I have definitely fallen under Caitlin Moran's spell. I challenge anyone to read this book and not think she's the epitome of awesomeness. The basic premise of this book is that Caitlin feels that she has never truly known how to be a "woman" in all the ways that society/family/ourselves tell us are the defining characteristics of a "woman". She talks about growing up in a family of 8 as the oldest in a very poor household and her journey in discovering her place in feminism. However, it was her no-holds-barred satirical take on the pitfalls of trying to mold ourselves to fit one perfect mold that made me truly love this book. 10/10 highly recommend

 

PS This is definitely an adult book. So be prepared.

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2015-01-26 22:20
Girls, Food, Body Image and The Appetites of Girls by Pamela Moses

 

 

 

 

When I first picked up The Appetites of Girls by Pamela Moses, I was expecting something along the lines of chick lit. Basically I thought I would be mindlessly entertained for a few hours of reading and that would be it. (just so we’re clear I love chick lit, especially in between reading a two “heavier” books) Instead this book made me think of the complicated body image issues most girls have, the prevalence of eating disorders, as well as the fact that we women tend to be the harshest judges of other women.

 

The Appetites of Girls is a story of four very different women from very different backgrounds thrown together as freshmen flatmates at Brown University. Despite their significant differences, the girls form an unexpected bond sharing their college experience. Thought this friendship plays an important part in each of the girls’ lives, they still manage to keep certain secrets from each other, secrets and aspects of their past that shaped who they are to a large degree. The story starts with the women having a reunion as adults and then looks back at their individual stories both throughout their childhood and university years. These pieces of their individuals puzzles read almost as independent short stories. Taken together they offer a beautifully detailed, and complex portrait of each girl. Ruth, Opal, Setsu and Francesca offer glimpses into their stories, the ordinary and extraordinary moments of their lives that shaped their attitudes towards food, their bodies, their sexuality, relationships and the world in general.

 

A simultaneously loving yet controlling and meddling mother who offers comfort through food. A competitive, manipulative brother whose desire to take everything includes the food off of his sister’s plate. An adventurous, restless, exotic mother whose constant hunger for male attention “teaches” her daughter an unexpected lesson. An invisible daughter of wealthy parents who seeks “visibility” through food. Paloma Moses explores these topics throughout the book bringing to the surface the complexities of these issues and their relevance to the lives of these girls. These are not the stories of magical catharsis and transformations but rather thorny and gradual paths of self-discovery and self-acceptance.

 

While I was rooting for Ruth, Opal, Setsu and Francesca to find ways to learn to love and accept themselves, I couldn’t stop thinking of all the ways we make these paths harder for each other, for other women around us. Not to say that men don’t have body image issues or that they don’t deal with eating disorders but these still affect women/girls more frequently than men. And I find that we as a society but also as as women are a huge part of the problem. As a society not only do we keep imposing these impossible to attain, photoshoped images of ideal beauty but we also love to judge. We love “judging” celebrities for the clothes they choose to wear, their haircuts (but especially for) the weight they gain/lose. The OC’s Mischa Barton’s weight gain was a frequent topic in the tabloids for a while a few years back. Who cares? Just because she chose to be an actress and became a celebrity does not mean she signed over her soul to the Gods of Dieting for the rest of her life. On the other hand, Calista Flockhart’s slim figure gave way for constant speculation that she (must be) is anorexic. As you can see, there is no satisfying the masses.

 

We take this “judging” mentality to our daily lives and we feel comfortable to do this same thing to the women we cross paths we, often even making comments out loud – somewhere in the process forgetting or not caring that behind that outfit/weight we don’t approve of, their is an actual person….with feelings. We do the same thing to our friends, siblings, children, partners. In the process aiding and abetting the numerous industries just waiting to cash in on our ever growing list of insecurities. Diet programs, supplements, books…workout programs….miraculous cosmetics products….plastic surgeries and procedures…brand name clothes. Constantly chasing that permanently elusive ideal version of ourselves.

 

Working in the cosmetics industry I used to have the same conversion over and over again – with an endless number of women. Almost always about things they disliked about themselves. If only they could lose the weight. If only their lashes were longer. If only their breasts were bigger. If only they could look the way they did ten years ago. It broke my heart over and over again but I did not see the same thing they saw. Where they saw imperfection I kept seeing beauty. And for most women that’s the hardest road of all – the Mount Everest of self-esteem – reaching that point at which looking in the mirror reveals self-love and beauty, not yet another opportunity to self-criticize.

This expectation we place on ourselves and on other women plays a huge part in the complex relationship most women have with food as well. Food as a way to exert control over one’s life. Food as a source of comfort. Food as a way to fill an emotional void. And then the amount of time women spend talking about  calories, pounds to be gained and lost, the tortures of whatever latest diet they are on. At the end of the day variety is the spice of life. Imagine how boring our lives would be if we all looked like models, clones of each other. And yet there would always be those who are not attracted to that look. And even then there would be a person out there somewhere wanting to look different, better in order to satisfy some imagined (different) ideal. And yes, most of us know all of this….in theory….Yet in practice when that moment comes to say that hurtful, judgmental thing out loud regarding someone’s looks or weight, we usually do not pause and think about all of this.

 

Just for the record, I am not writing all of this from the “holier than thou” position – this is a learning process for me as well. Something I have to keep reminding myself of constantly. Though I may not be able to change the world of unreasonable body ideals and constant criticism, what I (or any other woman out there) can do is love myself in all of my imperfect glory. I can also speak up each time I see or hear something negative being spoken about a woman based on the way she looks. I can be positive and supportive towards women and girls I encounter, reminding them in whatever way I can that they are beautiful just the way they are. So that maybe one day they will be able to do the same thing for someone else.

 

Quotes I enjoyed:

“So each evening before supper, while my mother worked in the kitchen and my father flipped through newspapers in the living room armchair, I closed my bedroom door to avoid disturbing them and played the new pieces I had learned. The notes vibrated through my fingers as I held them to the strings, making my hand tingle. Some nights I imagined my whole body humming the melodies, a swaying and swelling in my chest and in my throat that moved out and out along my limbs until I reached the final measure of a piece. The concluding notes that seemed so sad, fading until no music remained. I almost hated to play them, and sometimes few the bow in slow, slow strokes to make them last. Other times, I rushed through as quickly as my fingers would fly, hoping I had time to start once more at the piece’s happy beginning before dinner.”

 

NOTE: I would like to thank Penguin Random House Canada for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

This post was originally published on my main blog

 

REDHEADBOOKNERD

 

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