Good Luck With That: Prologue

[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, Prologue

(Tweet Link) Okay, so do ya'll remember #GoodLuckWithThat? I have acquired an ARC of the book.

I got it a couple weeks back (thank you!) but I've been holding off on this because I wasn't in the right place emotionally to dive in. Fat stigma around Christmas is the worst. Today is that day, so.....................mute this thread if you need to. Mute *me* if you need to.

I haven't read the book yet, but I have read the discussion questions and I'm already not super happy.

1. The author chose not to reveal the exact weight and sizes of Georgia and Marley, leaving you to draw your own conclusions. Did that bother you?"

Yes. It bothers me.

First, some history: The prohibition against using actual numbers came from a good place of trying to *protect* fat people. When Bridget Jones bewails that she is the FATTEST EVER at, idk, 160 pounds, that makes people who are 200, 300, or 400 pounds feel awful. So numbers were phased out.

The thing is, a 160 fat person isn't the same as a 260 fat person, or a 360 fat person. They're going to face different stigmas, which is relevant in a book that deals with fatness. The prohibition against numbers has come full circle to HURT fat people, because now (fictional) Bridget Jones can claim her hurtful words are ownvoives fat rep, when she's never experienced fat stigma at higher poundages.

I'm firmly anti-gatekeeping, but we also must recognize that fat experiences (and disabled experiences) vary over a spectrum. An author who has experienced Disability X or Fatness A has NOT experienced Disability Y or Fatness B.

2. Do you think Marley and Georgia each had an accurate view of her own size?"

What... the sweet hell is this. Apparently ("Is it true what Georgia says: 'Once a fat girl, always a fat girl'?") we're setting up for skinny / inbetweenie protagonists who FEEL fat, but aren't. That is a thing in our society, tangled up with eating disorders and disordered eating. It is not the same thing as fat rep. You can't have Mystery Fats (160? 260? 360? YOU DECIDE) and Secretly Skinny in the same book. You cannot. The world will treat the characters differently.

I am profoundly uncomfortable with the idea that all or most fat people don't have an accurate view of our weight. I am profoundly uncomfortable with being solicited to decide whether a character's self-image re: fatness is accurate. I would like to know how we are supposed to judge whether Marley and Georgia have an accurate self-image when WE do not have information to judge. No pictures, no numbers, but we're supposed to discuss whether they're as fat as they think they are?

I do agree that 'once a fat girl, always a fat girl', because every scientific study we have says that long term weight loss is unsustainable. But I doubt Georgia means that statement in an accepting health-at-every-size way.

The next question is making me screech like an enraged harpy.

4. Why do you think Marley has a more positive self-image than Emerson or Georgia? She comes from a family who loves to eat, where everyone is overweight (except for the younger brother)."

Wow, the assumptions packed into those two sentences. Fat people do not all love to eat. Fat people do not necessarily eat more than skinny people. Fat families are not jolly food orgies where everyone is immune to external fat shaming.

The question continues! "When you grow up in a family that OVERINDULGES regularly, do you think you can ever get past those HABITS and the EMOTIONAL COMPONENTS involved with food?" (Emphasis mine.) So Marley comes from a fat family who overindulges. We see the ugliness hidden under that "loves to eat" euphemism.

This right here? Would be enough for me to not buy this book. I doubt the author wrote the discussion questions, but whoever did would lose a sale based on that alone.

[TW: grief] Question 4 strongly implies that Marley eats in order to "fill the void" of losing her twin. Great.

5. Marley is someone who embraces the idea of 'healthy at any weight'. She eats well most of the time, loves to exercise and has a pretty positive self-image."

I hope she avoids books in which it's assumed that all fat people are 'overindulging' to fill an emotional 'void'.

8. Emerson's weight and eating issues are not romanticized--"

I assume that means stigmatized as fuck?

8. Emerson's weight and eating issues are not romanticized--the difficulty of her day-to-day life, her isolation, the lies she tells others and herself, the constant obsession with food. Do you know anyone like her, and if so, do you ever discuss food issues with them? How has that been?"

I cannot breathe. This is so awful.

9. Do you think fat prejudice comes more from women than from men?"

I mean, do we know the gender of the asshole writing these questions? Seems relevant.

Emerson, I remind you, is the friend who tragically passes away from Being Fat. She's the one being stigmatized to hell and back as a compulsive isolated liar who obsesses over food. I may need to take a break here. I'd planned to do little hour chunks and it's only been 30 minutes, but. Here's a picture of a fat pancake who is no morally worse than the skinny pancakes. The only lies she tells are nice ones.

For the record, I bristle at the idea that women are the ones perpetuating all the fat stigma. Do some do so? Yes! DEMONSTRABLY. But cis men call me 'fat feminist bitch'. Cis men say I can't have been raped because I'm too fat to be desirable. I place the label 'misogyny' on any suggestion that women are the ones largely responsible for the fat shaming that affects us.

But it is admittedly really fucking ironic to see that question in a fat-stigmatizing book written by a women. A hearty laugh was had by all.

The fact that men find fat people sexy doesn't mean those men are enlightened and fat-accepting. They find fat people sexy BECAUSE WE ARE SEXY. I am sexy as fuck. A dude's realization of that fact doesn't make him enlightened. Attraction to our bodies doesn't mean acceptance of those bodies. This is *cough* relevant in trans and disabled discussions as well. Attraction doesn't equal acceptance. (This is relevant in other discussions as well, such as race and people who fetishize people off another race, but here is my white lane and I'm gonna stay in it for this thread.)

Okay, I am setting a 30 minute timer and will read more on this until the beep frees me. Mute this thread for fat stigma.

-Sixteen Years Ago-
For once, no one was thinking of food.

Someone has pointed out to me that this would be an EXCELLENT opening sentence for a post-apocalyptic setting, or anywhere with food scarcity boiled into the premise.

Three girls are on a lake swimming "free from the constraints and prescribed activities of Camp Copperbrook, where girls ages eleven and eighteen were sent to lose weight." In the water they are "weightless and graceful." (*grinds teeth*)

"They were practically mermaids."

This is hard to tread, because I do want to be clear that when society has basically FORCED you to obsess about your weight, you will obsess about your weight. Yes. But that isn't the same as being obsessed with FOOD. The implication that the girls usually only think about food is a stigmatizing view of fat people: that we're fat because we eat too much.

When my eating disorder was at peak activity, my obsession wasn't food so much as it was weight, numbers, the feel of my body, movement. Yes, food was involved in my obsessive thought patterns but it existed alongside things like the constant need to jiggle my legs or fidget, because fidgeting "burned calories". Food was part of my obsessions, but not really: I didn't think about the food, just the numbers that food represented. The food might as well have been a box with a number on the outside.

I am very fat, reader. Very. People in my life tend to be confused when I don't seem to eat as much as they do. There's this assumption that I must be fat through DAILY extra food intake.

Anyway, back to the book-- HOLY SHIT. No. No. No.

Tomorrow, everyone would be going home.

"I love it here," Emerson said, a wistful note in her soft voice. "This is my happy place. Right here, right now. I can't believe we won't be back next year."

"Me too," Georgia said. "It sucks to age out."

"This has been the best summer," Marley said.

NO. Fat camps are not nice idyllic places of joy and good memories. Fat camps are horrible hellish nightmare prisons that should be burned to the ground. Being sent to one is painful and stigmatizing and sears into you the knowledge that you are deviant, your body is wrong, you have failed to human properly. I am shocked and disgusted to see this romanticized?!

No one felt their weight in the clear stillness of the lake. There was no chafing, no sweating, no lumbering. No aching joints, no straining muscles and, at this moment, no labored breathing.

There is labored breathing over here at THIS moment, let me tell you.

True peace was rare when you were fat. [...] you worked so hard to be invisible. You lived in fear of being noticed, singled out, of having someone point out what you already knew.

You're fat.

And these three girls were all fat.

But at this moment, they just were.

A camp counselor tells them to get back in their boat.

Georgia was the first to obey. [...] Getting in [the boat] wasn't so pretty. [...] Marley was next, able to raise herself over the side with ease, the most athletic one of the three.

Emerson... Emerson needed help from both of them, and even then, it was hard. Whatever grace the three girls had in the lake was shed like drops of water as the reality of their bodies returned to the gravity of the water-free world.

"When I'm skinny, I'm going to swim every day," Emerson said, panting from the exertion.

Swimming is something every skinny person in the world has plaintively asked me if I can do, you know that? It's how they want me to lose weight. Just fyi.

"Let's make a list when we get back," Emerson said. "All the things we'll do when we're not fat anymore. Things we can't even dream of now."

So, they've gone to fat camp every year of their life from 11 to 18, and they're still cheerfully determined to be skinny? This is......... really gross to me? How about showing what stigma like that does to a kid? (Or how about not, idk.) The grim, teeth-gritting determination. The panic and desperation when diets don't work no matter how faithfully you follow them. The hurt. This feels so saccharine. The camp is their favorite place! They're so happy! They plan to be skinny someday, but in a cheerful way! Butterflies everywhere!

There's none of the sheer, awful trauma that these kids have undoubtedly suffered from people hating them. I mean, we got a flippant mention of it above with the "u want to be invisible", but then we're back to this cheery saccharine shiny funtimes. The Fantasy of Being Thin is a thing. Kate Harding wrote about it in 2007. I believe this book is trying to be a conversation with that concept. ('Yes! Live your life now!') BUT.

If you're going to have a fat book about people being fat, you need to represent the fat factually. This--all of this!--from the descriptions of their bodies, to their personalities, to their outlook on life, rings very false to me. My experience with fat is not the ONLY experience with fat. Maybe this will not ring false to others. But so far this reads like a thinner (though not necessarily skinny! fatness is a spectrum!) person's idea of fatty-fatness. Several of you have noted, for example, the cartoonishness of "lumbering", as though the girls are sleepy bears, or zombies, or the Hulk. Never at my fattest have I thought of myself as "lumbering".

I need to note here that it is 100% okay to mute this thread!!! Or to bail! You do not have to 'tough out' this live-read. I am doing this to warn people who might be hurt by this book. If you already KNOW and don't need a warning, you're allowed to be done here.

That's the end of the prologue and of my 30 minutes. I'd like to continue, but past-me set this timer for a reason, so I'm going to trust xer judgment and pause here.


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