For those of you not familiar with Lindy West, she is a very, very funny comedian and an excellent writer. What’s even more impressive, is that she has taken those skills and uses them as tools for political activism. Lindy isn’t afraid to speak up on notoriously difficult subjects like abortion, rape jokes and fat shaming. Well, maybe she is afraid, but she does it anyway and we’ve all agreed that means she’s brave.
She published a memoir in 2016 called Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman. I laughed and laughed and laughed while reading this book, but also cried and got angry and felt hopeful. It’s a quick, wonderful read and I highly recommend it. But honestly, I recommend anything that Lindy West writes. She started her career at The Stranger in Seattle and has done articles for Jezebel, The Guardian and many other publications. I’m always delighted when I come across one of her pieces.
Lindy is the first author who introduced me to the concept of fat activism. In 2011, she had a public disagreement with her boss from The Stranger, Dan Savage. This was a boss that she liked and respected, but she called him out on the way he talked about fat bodies in the most incredible letter.
“I am not making excuses, because I have nothing to excuse. I reject the notion that thinness is the goal, that thin = better—that I am an unfinished thing and that my life can really start when I lose weight. That then I will be a real person and have finally succeeded as a woman.”
Wait. What? We can do that?? HELL YEAH!! It seems ridiculous that I would question such clear logic, but, like many women I know, I grew up steeped in self loathing, in terms of my body image. I was afraid of looking fat, becoming fat and being called fat. I will note here that I am a straight sized person (I learned that lingo from the kids. It means I can shop in most stores and find clothes that will fit me), so I cannot possibly understand the marginalization and hatred that fat women experience in the world. That said, reading Lindy West’s words caused me to question some deeply ingrained fat phobia and set me on a powerful, personal journey toward exploring body positivity and for that, I am profoundly grateful.