Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman, by Lindy West

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Five stars, read in August 2016.

This was every bit as brilliant as I knew it would be. I kept track of so many quotes I wanted to share, and by quotes I mean chapters, basically. I should probably just link to “Hello, I Am Fat,” because every word of it is gold, and I would like to get it tattooed on my back.

But most importantly: I reject this entire framework. I don’t give a shit what causes anyone’s fatness. It’s irrelevant and it’s none of my business. 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. I am not going to waste another second of my life thinking about this. I don’t want to have another fucking conversation with another fucking woman about what she’s eating or not eating or regrets eating or pretends to not regret eating to mask the regret. OOPS I JUST YAWNED TO DEATH.

If you really want change to happen, if you really want to “help” fat people, you need to understand that shaming an already-shamed population is, well, shameful.

Her three-pronged defense for dealing with internet assholes is (1) excellent and (2) about the only thing you CAN do, really.

PLAN A: Don’t click on anything. Don’t read anything. Don’t look at any words below any article, or any forum to which the public has any access, or any e-mail with a vaguely suspicious subject line like “feedback on ur work” or “a questions about womyn” or “feminism=female supremacy?” EVER. Because why on earth would you do that? I can understand if the Internet had just been invented Tuesday, and you sincerely thought, “Oh, perhaps sniffmychode89 has some constructive perspective on the politics of female body hair.” However, I, Lindy West, have now been using this virtual garbage dispenser for literally twenty years, and maybe one comment in fifty contains anything other than condescending, contrarian, and/or abusive trash. I have no excuse. When I click, it is because I am a fool . . .

PLAN B: The mock and block . . . My friends and I will toss the troll around for a while like a opd of orcas with a baby seal, and once I’ve wrung enough validation out of it, I block the troll and let it die alone.

PLAN C: Wine.

I should link to “How to Make a Rape Joke,” too, because I remember reading it, and I remember this line sticking out to me in particular:

And being an “equal opportunity offender” . . . falls apart when you remember (as so many of us are forced to all the time) that all people are not in equal positions of power. “Oh, don’t worry—I punch everyone in the face! People, baby ducks, a lion, this Easter Island statue, the ocean . . .” Okay, well that baby duck is dead now.

The Opie & Anthony travesty was new to me, and it was simultaneously enraging and so incredibly satisfying. Because literally, all they did was prove her point. Repeatedly. The section about her troll was as fantastic and moving as when I heard it on This American Life. The last, shortest chapter—”Abortion is Normal, It’s Okay to Be Fat, and Women Don’t Have to Be Nice to You”—ended up surprising me the most by providing me with a new, concrete way to look at my life.

I haven’t read Jezebel regularly in a long time, but I always loved everything she wrote. There was never a chance I wasn’t going to love this book. I wish it were longer, but it’s also fine, because I can just go read her online. Lindy West is one of my favorite people.

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