Has it ever occurred to you how ridiculously difficult it is to be female? Why do we pluck, bleach, dye, shave, and wax hairs? Why do we wear heels that contort our feet into positions which are not only torturous but also unhealthy for the human body? Why do we straighten our hair with irons and treat it with chemicals? Why do some of us inject poison into our bodies and use mild acids on our skin? Why? Because God forbid we wrinkle (after all, we all know the worst thing a woman can do is get old … or fat)! I am guilty of many of these things. There is no reason to be coy. I’m guessing you are too, because if you are reading my blog, you are probably a woman.
Growing up I remember my mom brushing my hair. I remember having this huge knot right behind my neck that had to be unmatted. It took her ages to detangle me. I was crying and upset, and my mother said something to me I will never forget: “A little pain is a little beauty.”
The things we do to be “beautiful” are really over the top stupid. Imagine if you were an alien looking at us from outer space and you saw that all these tortures were not only self inflicted, painful, and expensive; but that we deeply wanted them. What would you think? Us women are a strange bunch. But if you think a little deeper, there is more to it than that.
I just read the most amazing book called Dietland by Sarai Walker. It made me think a lot about all the self harm we do in order to fit someone else’s idea of what women should be. Someone needs to slap those people. We are rad as fuck just the way we are, dontcha know!? When it comes to Dietland, what looks like some ordinary chick lit, with its cutsey little cover, is actually one of the most eye poppingly unique feminist manifestos I have ever had the pleasure of reading (and that’s saying quite a bit as I do a lot of reading and have a minor in Women’s Studies). It starts off being about a fat girl who goes by the name of Plum. Plum is trapped in her 300+ pound fleshy suit of armor which prevents her from living the life she wants. Instead of relationships and romance, she gets snide and nasty comments. Instead of feeling worthwhile and beautiful, she covers herself in loose clothes trying to go unnoticed. She is contemplating gastric bypass surgery when the story opens. What actually unfolds, however, is not your typical fat girl gets thin and gets a guy book. No indeed. What happens, as Plum’s journey unfolds, is that Dietland leads the reader to question why being fat is actually so bad. For that matter, why as women, do we feel such a desperate need to cling to almost unattainable standards in order to feel that we have worth? Is beauty the most important thing to aspire to? Aren’t we more than the flesh suits we live in? Maybe our fat / unibrows / excessive body hair / flat chests / aging bodies aren’t really the problem.
Dietland was not just an engaging read. At times it is dark and hardcore, at times it is funny and sweet. It also made me angry … but in a good way. Some of the characters in this book were also angry, and the novel explores what happens when women stop trying to be all sugar and spice and decide to fight back. Dietland will leave you with a smile on your face, an unapologetic door stopper of cake in your hand, and a feeling of empowerment. This book is for any woman who ever felt like she was “less than.” So yeah, this book is for anyone who is a woman. I wish I was rich like Oprah and could buy a copy for every single woman I know. I hope you read it.