It is hard to put into words just how much I love this book. I finished this book feeling like I had made a new friend, and I would recommend it to absolutely everyone.
This book is a memoir, but is very untraditional. Brittany talks about her life from the time she was a child until the present, and discusses the struggles she has endured due to her weight. This book is absolutely chalked full of humor… it is one of the funniest books I have ever read. I found myself reading snippets out loud to my husband as we both laughed. Some of the humor is very crude, but it also feels very real. Brittany talks about things that I would never openly discuss with anyone but my husband, and she does so in a completely unabashed and unapologetic way that I adore.
I found that I have a lot in common with Brittany, though we have some differences too. We are both the same age, and about the same weight. Unlike her, I did not grow up overweight. In fact, I was considered very skinny all the way up until my early 20’s, when my body started to change and my metabolism slowed down. But I remember being 125lbs and looking in the mirror and hating myself because of one tiny spot of cellulite on my thighs. What I would give for that body now! That’s the thing… whether you are skinny or overweight, most women have major issues with the way that they look. Most of us are never confident in our own skin, even when the rest of the world thinks we look great.
I also share a lot of the anxiety issues that Brittany had to deal with. She talked about a time in her life when she was living alone for the first time ever, and she had so much anxiety that she couldn’t even get out of her car to go to classes or go inside of a grocery store. My anxiety is not quite at that level, but I do still make my husband do all of the shopping for us, and I panic when I’m surrounded by groups of people. It is something that I struggled with my whole life, but it has progressively gotten worse as my self esteem has plummeted due to my weight. As awful as it was to read about her struggles, it served to remind me that I am not alone. She not only overcame these problems, but she is now an incredibly successful woman with a family and a career, and she has faced her fears head-on to defeat them.
Overweight women are the majority in today’s society, like it or not. Most of us who are overweight not only are embarrassed by it and try to fix it constantly, but we also let it control our lives. Even the thought of wearing anything even remotely revealing is nauseating to me. So in 90 degree weather, I’m walking around in stifling jeans and my husband’s extra large t-shirts because I think it helps hide my tummy. I, like most women out there, let it control me to the point of not being able to enjoy life. Brittany calls us out on this and shows us that we don’t have to feel this way. We can buy nice clothes for ourselves (in our correct size, not a hopeful size too small), and it’s OK to feel pretty even when you aren’t super skinny. It’s also OK to want to lose weight and be healthy, but the point is that you don’t have to despise yourself in the mean time.
The majority of this book talks about Brittany’s struggles with her self-image, but the really good part of the book is towards the end, when Brittany was posing in front of a mirror and realized that her self-hate was spreading to her young daughter Gigi. She realized that she can’t tell her daughter that she is beautiful (and looks just like her mommy) then two minutes later look in the mirror and grunt and groan about how fat she is. This sends a mixed message, and is not healthy. Instead, she decided to fake it until she made it. She would look in the mirror every day and tell herself three things she loved about herself. It started out as kind of a chore, with unsaid snide remarks in the back of her mind. After a while, the snide remarks went away and she started to believe the good things that she told herself.
Something that I found really interesting is that as I was reading this book, I would go and look up photos of Brittany online. Yes, she is overweight. But she is also gorgeous. She has photos of herself in a bikini or in really girly outfits and I don’t see a fat woman… I see a strong beautiful woman. Who is the same size as me. So if I can look at her and see beauty, then why can’t I see that when I look in the mirror? My husband pointed this out to me when I commented on how beautiful she looks, and he was right. I feel sorry for people online who run her down and leave her nasty comments in an effort to make themselves feel good. It’s unnecessary and cruel, and the same people who spout out hateful comments now might find themselves overweight in 10 years, so it’s also ironic.
I am so grateful for Fat Girl Walking and Brittany Gibbons. It is amazing having a role model to look up to who can point out that sometimes awkward, hilarious things do happen in life, and they are nothing to be ashamed of. When you are running and are met with the sound of your belly slapping against your crotch, just roll with it and keep on running. Or better yet, make up a song to go with the sound. It’s OK to laugh at yourself, and it’s OK to feel beautiful in your own skin – no matter how big or small you are.
Holly has a Bachelors degree in Environmental Science and owns a small business with her husband selling fleece and hand-spun yarn. When she is not spinning yarn, she does freelance work as a graphic design artist and is highly involved in animal rescue.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Dey Street Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.