Good Luck With That: Chapter 4

[Good Luck With That Content Note: Fat Stigma, Eating Disorders. Please take this content note seriously.]

Good Luck With That: I picked up an advance review copy of this book after some twitter hubbub about the cover copy being fatphobic. This is a record of my live-read on Twitter. I do not recommend reading any of this if you are fat or have lived with disordered eating.

Good Luck With That, Chapter 4

(Tweet Link) Okay, here we go. #ANAGLWT. This is an attempt to read and review Chapter 4 of "Good Luck With That". Reminder that there is a LOT of fat stigma in this book and I honestly encourage fat people and people with eating disorders to mute "ANAGLWT" in their Twitter settings.

(By the way, I super appreciate all the wonderful support. I promise this book isn't self-harm for me to read; I'm choosing to do this when I am in a safe emotional space in order to educate others.)

Chapter 4 opens with Marley and her day as a personal chef. She notes that some of her clients see cooking as a chore "which was hard for me to understand, since I viewed sex and cooking in the same category of sensual delight."

It is okay to like cooking and food, but I here note that it has been ambiguously stated that Marley has disordered eating--a previous passage said she and Georgia don't judge each other for bingeing and purging. It is... kinda disturbing to me to flip between "food is torture for me and I binge-eat and then purge" (apparently? the reference was vague) to "food is heady and wonderful and beautiful and cooking is like sex." Just pages apart, a giant tonal shift.

I would feel easier if this were #ownvoices--fat people CAN have conflicting emotions about food--but it isn't and it feels very shallow to skim from eating disorders to sexy fun pleasure.

Marley lives in Expensive Snooty Town with Georgia and is apparently well-off. That's three protagonists now who are all relatively wealthy, which I believe has been built in to make their fatness their own "fault". Anyway, rich people hire Marley for the status symbol of a personal chef. She also specializes in food allergies. She says "Peanut allergy? There's a counter I used just for your food."

I think peanut allergies require more separation of ingredients than that?? Gluten, too, is mentioned. I won't tag in my baker friend Louisa, but I'm pretty sure you can't accommodate gluten and peanut allergies by just setting aside a wee corner of space.

[TW: harm to children] We finally find out who "Frankie" is (Marley has prayed to her several times): she's Marley's twin who died 30 years ago (at age 4). This left her "feeling half a pair instead of a whole person", which I'm sure will tie into her fatness and eating and don't we all look forward to that, sigh. Why. Why would you-- At what point in the planning process do you think "hmm, I need a REASON for this character to be fat and an emotional eater, so how about a dead sibling? No, even better: a dead twin. Nailed it."

Marley's first (and oldest) client that we see is creepy and weird and maybe a serial killer and also he hates fat women so we get to hear about how men look at fat women and judge us. This part isn't entirely wrong--some do!--but some don't and also do fat MEN exist?

Marley then texts a firefighter she knows through her brother (who is "the gay firefighter", boy, this book just keeps hitting it out of the park on queer issues) and we learn that Camden is a calendar pin-up for the department and "occasionally, slept with me."

I don't know whether to be happy that the author realized we're not Shunned Forever by hot men just because we're fat, or angry that this didn't come up when Marley had NO IDEA how to hold hands with a cute guy in public. Though I do still think that the bucket list is artificially "hard" in the girl's minds to show that actually it's really easy to be fat and happy (and lose weight, probably) if we would just try a bit.

Marley is happy that her brother is a firefighter because it gives her "nearly unlimited access to New York's Bravest" (ew?). She brings food to the station so Hot Firemen can fawn over her. "Camden Fortuno" was "gorgeous, brave, strong, funny, friendly, gorgeous, a firefighter".

Okay, sure, his name was a little dopey--there are those Italians who have a penchant for picking out the WASPiest name possible to pair with their Old Country last name. My mom didn't fall prey to that trap.

I *did* say that Marley was being built up as from an "ethnic" family that eats a lot (per the Discussion Questions) and therefore probably the black-haired one. (I still don't know what the characters look like!) I was expecting Italian, since the stereotype of Italian families is fat and jolly and lots of food. So, I mean, called it.

Camden and I had never been on a date. Once in a while, I'd go out with my brother and his husband Louis and some of the gang from Battalion 11. That was about as close as a public date as I'd had with Cam. But in the past five years, we'd nevertheless ended up back at his place six times, where sexy times had indeed ensued.

Well, I hope he's not a love interest because I hate him.

I mean, I hate Marley too, so.

UM? [tw: rape?]

Each time [Camden and I had slept together], Camden had been a little drunk; each time he'd asked me not to tell my brother. Each time made me love him all the more. Don't judge me.

Alcohol is complicated and so are relationships and I don't know how drunk Marley was but wow that's really uncomfortable for me. (Alcohol and drunk sex generally are, ymmv, I don't want a big argument about it.)

Marley says that "being a twin without a twin is like having a hole in your heart" and that she attaches to people quickly and too easily. (Same.) She's "on the prowl for a husband."

Does she sign up for a dating site? Date fat men who aren't firefighters? No. But we can't really judge her properly for being passive, because the author has done this on purpose: she seems to think fat people are fat BECAUSE we are passive.

Anyway. "Camden would fit the bill [for husband] quite nicely. I just had to get him to that point." Well that's not creepy.

Marley has a friend-client who has 4-year-old triplets, for extra Dead Twin poignancy. The friend is "willowy" thin, which makes me have lots of worries about her triplet pregnancy--honey, where did you STORE them? Willowy Friend asks about the funeral.

I hadn't told her the cause of death, nor about Emerson's size. Fat-girl loyalty.


It's horrifying that Marley and Georgia are MOST unsettled by Emerson's weight. They don't talk about missing their friend, or good memories (they have none! all they ever did with her was talk about Being Fat). Just her fat. Fundamentally, Marley and Georgia do not LIKE Emerson. They are SUPPOSED to like her, but they do not. One presumes because the author cannot bring herself to like her.

"I couldn't betray Emerson by talking about her weight." HER WEIGHT IS NOT SHAMEFUL. Well, now I see why the author had her die From Fat instead of from, say, cancer that her fatphobic doctors missed. The death has to be shameful and hidden--therefore it has to be From Fat.

Marley's gaze lavishes all over Willow Friend in a way that I would normally read as VERY VERY QUEER, but of course she's just lusting for a body like that, not the person in it.

She shrugged, her beautiful collarbones shifting elegantly under her skin. Collarbones fascinated me, since I had never really seen my own.

LOL, this is literally so bad. I can swear on a stack of bibles that when I'm talking to my super-thin friends, I'm not distracted by their elegantly flowing collarbones. She gets SO DISTRACTED by Willowy Friend's body that she frequently loses her place in the conversation and Willow is BLUSHING from the intense gaze and idk maybe they're going to make out after all.

Marley says Willow is her friend and Willow "smiled, looking relieved". Are... are we meant to take it that Willow thought Marley's gaze was lust and was getting uncomfortable with her staring? I... God, this is like fatphobia over HERE, weird homophobia over HERE?

If my friend was spacing out looking at my neck RIGHT AFTER HER BEST FRIEND DIED, I wouldn't leap to "oh no, she wants to fuck me, what do I do". I would assume she was, you know, spacing out with grief and my neck was in the way.

Page 43 has another use of "whore". ("You're a camera whore", said in reference to her firefighter brother getting in the news again.) Authors: Find a different word for this.

Gods this next page. I'm sad again. I was doing so well! I was riding the irked, and also the gluten thing. Dante (brother) is throwing a party and Marley is going because Camden might be there and they might hook up again.

'Don't tell your brother.'
Code for 'don't tell anyone'.
Curse of the fat chick.


I was pretty enough--the classic Sicilian look, big brown eyes, black, curly hair, rather fabulous cleavage, thank you very much. I was also kind of a workout freak and always had been--I took kickboxing, Zumba, and yoga, and ran (wearing a sports bra that looked like armor, mind you, but I could run). My blood pressure was normal, my cholesterol "exemplary", according to my doctor.

So... so at least one of them HAS run in public in a sports bra. Okay.

Anyway, Marley realizes she isn't happy (which honestly I thought she already had an epiphany about? earlier?) because she wants Camden to be her boyfriend instead of having drunken, shameful sex with her once a year. I feel REALLY STRONGLY that this is a bad idea, but I am not sure if I'm SUPPOSED to feel that way, because I'm through the looking glass here.

I was never going to be a size 6. Not with my genes ("YES!", Ana cried.), not with my love of food and wine. ("NO, YOU WERE SO CLOSE," Ana sobbed.)

Here we go: Marley is fat because she eats too much. Of course.

I'd been on so many diets, had long ago grown tired of weighing and measuring and calculating everything I put in my mouth. It was sacrilege, an offense to my people.

This is particularly hilarious because Marley is a PERSONAL CHEF. She "weighs and measures and calculates" everything she puts in OTHER peoples' mouths. She has to! If she gives them more than they pay for, she loses money!!

Hadn't I been weaned on ricotta cheese? Wasn't our family motto "nobody leaves the table till someone's dead"? And how could I not eat, when Frankie REALLY hadn't been able to eat, had no appetite no matter what my mother fed her? I was the twin who lived. I HAD to eat.


I'd read all the books, all the articles. I knew that losing weight and keeping it off was statistically harder than climbing Mount Everest.

Clearly she has NOT read the studies because the studies show that 'keeping it off' is not about willpower. You cannot fucking juxtapose "weight loss is essentially impossible" with something that people CAN do with enough effort, like climbing Mt. Everest. It is not ABOUT effort. And you cannot pull that shit right after a paragraph about all the ricotta cheese she eats in memory of her sainted dead twin.

We get a description of Marley's naked body in the mirror (hot Lane Bryant model fat, which I also called in advance) and then: "This was my body, and it worked."

I could waste time wishing to be small. I could get surgery, I could starve myself and never eat the foods I loved again.

That wasn't what I called living.

I agree, but it's a LITTLE LATE FOR THAT. We just had 40 pages telling us, again and again, that if you're not thin, you'll die of fat like Emerson did. So "meh, I guess a size 22 with rocking tits is fine" isn't gonna fix that. That's not fat acceptance! That's gatekeeping Good Fatties and Bad Fatties. If you do yoga and Zumba and run and kickboxing and have rocking tits, THEN you can eat your ricotta, but if you're disabled and can't get upstairs then KFC is shameful and you are bad. NO.


You are good no matter what your weight is.

You are good no matter what exercise you do or don't do.

You are good no matter what you eat or don't eat.

NONE OF THOSE THINGS MATTER to whether you're a good person.

I do not hate this part. I will say something nice, because I try to be fair. It rings as truthful that Marley hasn't wanted to put a pic of herself on her site because she's afraid people won't hire a fat chef. Heyyyyyyy, there are many reasons I don't have a picture of myself on my author profile on Amazon and that is one of them: I'm afraid people will buy fewer books from a fat author.

But I'm working on that. I have a professional photo shoot scheduled, and I've picked out clothes that I feel represent me (with pins!), and I'll be getting my hair and makeup done. I hope this doesn't backfire horribly. I'm scared, I won't lie.

Marley does her own hair and makeup and sets up her camera and takes her own pictures, then uploads the best one. Which IN THE CONTEXT OF THE BOOK, is kinda brave I guess. Okay. But this is her business, her livelihood, and she's doing this as an amateur. A thing she's worried may sink her business? That worry is carelessly brushed aside here. It feels like the author thinks it's silly and Marley is worrying unnecessarily. She's NOT.

If we'd seen Marley schedule a photo shoot--a REAL one--that would have walked us through an experience that I am going through right now! Trying to look respectable, presentable, acceptable while fat. Dealing with thin makeup artists and thin hairstylists and thin photographers who don't know how to stage you, how to make your clothes flatter you. (I'm bringing my own clothes clips to gather the extra fabric in the back.) The sheer effort it takes (and time! and MONEY!) to appear presentable to others. Simply because we're fat.

Anyway. The chapter ends there with Marley 'sort of' doing the photo shoot item. Chapter 5 says:

Eat dessert in public. (Failed.)

Fun thing to look forward to.

Thanks for coming along with this review of how NOT to write fat characters.


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