The piercing sound of your alarm goes off at exactly 8:32 am, a sound that can only be described as “dying space robot whales” but is labelled as “Sci-fi” on your phone. You roll out of bed, grudgingly, and stumble to your bathroom, bleary-eyed and groggy. After a late night of binge-watching Netflix (will Luke and Lorelei finally get together?!!), you’re almost afraid to glance at yourself in the mirror and catch yourself looking like a troll. You look in the mirror, anyways.
Your hair is wild and crazy, yet flat on one side, your eyes are crusty and slightly bloodshot, and there is a pillow indentation on the left side of your face. Sigh. You say out loud, “You look… AWESOME.”I am of the opinion that even when you look your worst—and let’s be honest here, there will be days where you look like something dragged in off the street—you can still feel your best. This concept, however, directly contradicts the popular trend to be self-deprecating and negative about your looks, your personality, and especially your body. This is not limited to those who identify as female alone, as the message these days is, “Yes, men, you too can hate yourself.”
However, the verbal dissection of women’s bodies is overwhelming and unending—from magazine covers that promise to help you lose the final ten pounds, to celebrity gossip columns that promise to reveal which A-list celeb has cellulite, to Youtube comedians going on body shaming rampages… The message is clear: if you are a woman and your body in any way is neither twig thin nor perfectly toned, there is something wrong with you. There is an assumption that to be a “curvy” woman, you must hate yourself.
Brittany Gibbons has spoken out against this assumption through her blog Brittany Herself and through her decision to appear in a bikini on national television. This is something that occurs on a frequent basis (a scantily clad woman on my television set? Shocking!), though because Brittany is a size 18, she made headlines. Brittany’s message is loud and clear: love yourself, love your body, regardless of size! Her recently published book, Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love, and Being Comfortable in Your Skin… Every Inch of It is a champion for body confidence. Her writing style is fiercely intelligent and outrageously hilarious, and her honesty and openness when it comes to any subject knows no bounds.
In her memoir, Gibbons has a unique way of talking about the most embarrassing and painful memories with such humor that you can’t help but laugh through the tears. She always struggled with her weight, going through periods of self-hatred and eating disorders, but ultimately it was having a daughter that made her decide to treat her own body with the self-respect and confidence it deserved, if only to set a good example and prevent her daughter from falling into the same low self-esteem trap.
She caught a glimpse of her daughter standing in front of a mirror, clutching her tiny tummy, with a frown on her face—a perfect imitation of her mother. That particular scene stood out with such sharpness, that it is worth noting.
Her method of improving her self-confidence and learning how to love her imperfect body? Fake it ‘til you make it, as in—even on your worst days, tell yourself how good you look and how much you love your body (even if it feels awkward or silly), and eventually you’ll find that you won’t have to tell yourself that anymore, because you’ll just believe it. Cheesiness aside, this method works. (Conveniently enough, it is also much cheaper than any gym membership or organic power greens smoothie from your local health food store.)
I immediately felt empowered after I finished reading this book, and I wanted to purchase multiple copies just so I could give them away to every single person I knew and cared about, and even random strangers on the street, just so they too could read this book. So if you’re ever out on Mass St. and you see a wild-eyed young woman with curly hair that you vaguely recognize from your local library, spouting about self-confidence and body positivity and sitting upon a throne of pink books, do not run away in fear… I’m just really gung-ho about this book, guys.
(And don't forget to check out her recently published book, The Clothes Make the Girl (Look Fat?): Adventures and Agonies in Fashion, which is just as fabulous as her first memoir.)
-Kimberly Lopez is a Readers' Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.