Maybe when a lot of people see the cover of this book, their first instinct is something like Emmett’s concerns from that conversation in the awesome movie that encouraged so many of us girls to go to law school, Legally Blonde
Emmett: She seems completely untrustworthy to me.
Emmett: This is a person who's made her living . . . by telling women that they're too fat.
Elle: Brooke would never tell a woman she was too fat.
Emmett: And she seems like she's hiding something.
Elle: Maybe it's not what you think.
Emmett: Maybe it's exactly what I think.
Elle: You're really being a butthead.
Emmett: A butthead? Why would you call me that?
Elle: You need to have a little more faith in people. You might be surprised.
Emmett: I can't believe you called me a butthead. No one's called me that since the ninth grade.
Elle: Maybe not to your face.
There is a lot of stigma against talking about the possibility of women being fat or ugly. Unless, of course, they are on TV, in which case almost all we talk about is whether they are fat or ugly, too skinny or have bad hair. Except, not fat – we instead use euphemisms, like, “She looks unhealthy,” or, “It seems like she hasn’t been eating as well as she used to,” or even, “Muffin top!” But, it’s kind of weird because I always end up feeling like treating it as terrible to suggest a woman might be fat makes it even more shameful for a woman who just factually knows she is overweight to acknowledge it.
And I do think this comes from how often we hear men say things like that douchey guy on the Bachelorette
last week. What was it he said? . . . Something like, “God made you to be beautiful, so if you get fat, I might still love you, but I won’t love on you.” And when men talk about women being overweight at all, it is usually that, with no thought that anyone could ever legitimately love someone who is fat. Even though we all objectively know that people love, and love on, fat people all the time. So, it’s never just a description, just something about a person that is human and beautiful for its humanity, in those circumstances. Instead, it carries with it all this baggage of women being told since we were born that fat means unlovable. So, guys, that is why women react to things you say about our appearances – because sometimes it just sounds douchey, like the Bachelorette dude, and other times it might be fine on its own, but it is loaded with all of the douchiness of the Bachelorette dudes we have known.
Anyway, I think that the fear of naming fat also turns into a judgment about girls who talk about wanting to lose weight. I think it is common for other girls to feel like weight-loss girls have bought into the pressure on women to be vacant bodies, and so there is a tendency to feel nervous around weight-loss girls because they might reprimand you for actually inhabiting your body. But, I think there’s just a small step of vocabulary from talking about dieting to talking about health, so it strikes me as often more of a style judgment to shun dieting girls than a substantive disagreement. In general. On the other hand, I'm sure anyone who has a personality, or does what she wants, or doesn't look like a model has felt reprimanded for it, and probably by other girls as much as guys.
And for all of this there is the exception for the annoying person, gender neutral, who has found some magical health plan and wants to tell you about it all the time. Woof.
Weight and health are complicated.
So, this is a pretty cool book. I think it is marketed towards girls who habitually diet and are really stressed out by the idea of being unlovable because they inhabit their bodies and don’t look like Heidi Klum. And probably most of us have at least had thoughts about that, even those who do look like Heidi Klum – because no one ever looks enough like Heidi Klum, not even Heidi Klum.
The main point of this book is that you should listen to your own body, and it will tell you the way it feels best. It advocates a lot for not thinking your body is bad and not thinking food is bad because, while those things are often part of dieting, they ultimately usually lead to unhealthiness and feeling crappy. And I thought it was cool how the book acknowledged that everyone’s bodies are different, but it still gave some good guidelines for if a person’s body has been so messed up by dieting that they’re in a perpetual binge-and-fast state.
Also, there are some crazy cool recipes in here and ideas about making healthier versions of things. For example, there is a whole section at the end of cocktail ideas she has. They all sound pretty legit. Also, there is a recipe for a brown rice oatmeal type of breakfast, and I am pretty excited about that.
I did not love A Place of Yes, and I will admit that I don’t think Bethenny’s speaking ability translates incredibly smoothly to writing in this book either, but I feel like Bethenny really loves and cares about food and you can see her passion for women’s health and strength in this book. It has a lot of purpose, and it is really great. Like Brooke Taylor Windham, she wouldn’t call a woman fat, but she will tell you to get off your ass and start taking care of yourself. And I think we can all use that kind of encouragement.
She is sweet in this picture:
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but I didn't promise to like it.