When did you last read a memoir that simultaneously made you want to laugh and cry? Jes Baker wrote the page-turner Landwhale in which she:
- opens up her soul to disclose fears ranging from amusement park rides to relationships,
- reveals the multi-generational process through which they developed their body image,
- throws in a critique of the fat acceptance movement while also being an avid advocate.
Jes Baker’s memoir is a compelling, grounded story of her life. Her experiences open the reader’s eyes to how our society shapes who we become. Her (occasional mis-) adventures illustrate that challenges that each of us, our families, and our neighbors face when it comes to weight, bodies, and food. Some of these stories are so funny you laugh out loud. Others are devastating. On occasion, I wanted to step into her story and straighten out Person A who was completely wrong about ABC. Other times, I wanted to wrap an arm around her and make a cup of tea.
Her moments of revelation– sometimes taking years of work to find– suggest that an individual can fight the social norms that become internalized to move beyond self-hatred. Jes Baker is fortunate; she found mental health support, a partner, and even a dietitian who has helped her stay on a path of working through her history. As she says, it is a continuous process for people, not a single battle. However, the greater question of whether any one person should have to fight that inner battle remains a problem for all of society to address. Her book is a call for people to change their approach (to themselves and others) and call for change in our social institutions.
Learn more about Jes Baker at her website.
You can purchase the book here.
And a little bit about Health At Every Size.
Caveat: Readers who struggle with dieting, body image, trauma, and weight may find aspects of the book very difficult to read. I suggest doing so with a supportive group if you are concerned about the emotional impact. This is also aimed at an adult audience (PG-13 if not R).
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