Comedian and former journalist Hilliard shares embarrassing and empowering moments throughout a life obsessed with body image and food.
In her first book, the author delivers a highly personal assessment with self-deprecating humor and frank honesty. As a “chunky” only child raised in Brooklyn, Hilliard was relentlessly bullied in school due to her statuesque size (6 feet, 1 inch) and higher-than-average weight. Early depression and self-loathing habits soon followed. The author shifts partial blame for her negative relationship with her body and food to biological growth spurts and an upbringing in which her working-class parents succumbed to the easy conveniences of processed fast food, an eat-everything-you-are-served mentality, and ignorance about exercise and balanced nutrition. This uncomfortable reality solidified itself into Hilliard’s psyche as an adult, when she continued wrestling with the scale and her self-image as a black woman. Her book addresses “nearly forty years of failures” and episodes of yo-yo dieting and struggling to thoroughly love herself. She chronicles her first encounters with love, her brief idea of pursuing a basketball career, a brush with a near-fatal infection, and her liberating defiance in the face of societal standards of beauty and body size. “White women get to be plain-Janes,” writes the author. “Women of color have to be exotic in order to be celebrated.” Though the author engages in plenty of chatty digressions—she takes due time to contribute spirited commentary on “Black Girl Magic,” fad diets, and the complexities of singledom and masturbation (“for far too long, women have downplayed their sexual satisfaction in order to boost their partner’s ego”)—these expository detours don’t detract from her core message of unconditional self-acceptance at any age in a woman’s life. Hilliard’s narrative, though occasionally scattershot, is informative, inspiring, and often hilarious.
Fresh, whip-smart wisdom that will appeal most to women battling weight and self-esteem issues.