On this week’s episode of the Mother Jones food politics podcast, Bite (you should really subscribe!), we’re talking about fat shaming—and we hear from two amazing writers who try not to internalize all the messages about the importance of being skinny. First up, writer Lindy West, author of the book Shrill and many pieces about body image, including one for the Stranger called “Hello, I Am Fat.” Next, we talk to Samantha Irby, writer of the blog Bitches Gotta Eat and author of the new collection of essays We Are Never Meeting in Real Life. Listen to the episode and read a short excerpt from Irby’s book below.
The following is an excerpt from Samantha Irby’s essay “Fuck It, Bitch. Stay Fat.”
Fuck it, bitch. Stay fat.
I mean, isn’t this what we really want to do anyway? Because we already know how one loses weight: eat less and exercise more. Or get surgery. Why are we still playing around with the Oreo diet or the whole-milk-and-unpasteurized-cheese diet or the diet where you still get to eat a pound of pasta?! Either you’re ready to eat vegetables and get on a treadmill, or you are not. And I’m ready. I just lost five pounds and here’s how: for two weeks I quit drinking booze and soda and I stopped eating dessert. I didn’t exercise—someone please tell me how you fit heart-rate-raising exercise into a schedule that includes working a real job and trying to get a good night’s sleep?—but I tried to set reasonable goals like “Don’t order one meat on top of another meat at lunch.”
Dieting is crazy and turns most of us jerks into insufferable babies. Either (1) you’re a crabby asshole on the verge of tears all day long because you’re desperate for a handful of Cheetos, or (2) you’re perched atop a high horse made of fewer than twelve hundred daily calories, glaring down your nose at me and pointing out how much saturated fat is in my unsweetened iced tea. Man, don’t you hate a fat-skinny bitch more than anything else on the planet? You know who I mean—your friend who used to eat mayonnaise straight from the jar but who recently lost twenty pounds doing Whole30 because she was going through a midlife crisis and is now suddenly an expert on health and nutrition, totally qualified to rip the corn dog out of your greasy little clutches. HOLY SHIT, SHUT UP, GIRL. Can’t we all just decide that if you’re over the age of twenty-eight you don’t have to worry about being skinny anymore? Thin is a young woman’s game, and I’m perfectly happy to chill on the bench this quarter with a chili dog. And if I happen to burn a few calories while texting, then great.
Now, let’s not be crazy. Should you work out? Of course you should. But you don’t need some magazine intern clucking at you from behind the computer screen about taking a jog around the block every once in a while. It doesn’t even have to be hard—just go to Curves a few times a week and trade a couple of meals a day for some Special K or a salad (but not the meat-and-cheese kind). And drink water. To make your belly feel full and distract you from how much you would die for a Dove bar. Also running to the bathroom all the time has to qualify as minimal cardiovascular exercise.
The hard part isn’t the knowing what to do, it’s the doing. I just had a yogurt. It had 150 calories in it and 2 grams of fat. I wrote it down in a little notebook full of lies that I keep in my backpack to motivate myself to try to eat better. In theory, that notebook is supposed to hold me accountable for all my food choices so that I can get on a path to better eating. In reality, I willfully ignore its existence every time someone brings a pizza to the office or the nights my friends coax me out to the bar or the entire week I spent in LA pretending I didn’t just vow to end my love affair with cheese. I know what I’m supposed to do; I just need someone to tell me how. Every single day until I die.
Seriously, though, every woman in America is probably an expert on health and exercise based solely upon her subscription to SELF magazine. Do you really need another article about how important it is to eat a big breakfast full of healthy fats and whole grains to curb afternoon snacking? NO, YOU DO NOT. You need bitches to write about how comfortable maternity jeans are for women who aren’t really pregnant. And sexy ways to remove a bra that has four hooks. I’m always amused when they encourage you to eat “instead” foods, like eating an apple when you really want to rub a bacon cheeseburger all over your boobs is a fair substitute. Why not instead list which ice creams have the least calories, by the pint? Oh, sure, you can tell a woman just to run five miles and take up crafting after she gets dumped by some asshole and her friends won’t call her back because they’re tired of listening to her dissect every single aspect of their relationship (“Do you think we’d still be together if I hadn’t hated on that Flight of the Conchords show in 2009?”), but she’d much prefer knowing whether an entire pint of Talenti has fewer calories than one of Häagen-Dazs. That’s an “instead” a girl could really go for.
The above is an excerpt from WE ARE NEVER MEETING IN REAL LIFE by Samantha Irby. Copyright (c) 2017 by Samantha Irby. Reprinted by permission of Vintage Books, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. All rights reserved.