When I was contacted recently and asked if I would like to review a copy of You Have The Right To Remain Fat, A Manifesto by Virgie Tovar, I can’t say it was an author I had ever heard of. The title of the book definitely intrigued me and I couldn’t wait to get my copy and start reading.
As soon as the book and press release arrived, I instantly recognised the picture of Virgie and you just may too. Virgie is a fat activist and an expert and lecturer on fat discrimination and body image. If like me you’ve ever used #LoseHateNotWeight on Instagram, you guessed it, Virgie started that campaign. Virgie herself constantly dieted for 2 decades and believed that her body was something to be fixed, until she decided to ditch diet culture and now helps others do the same. If you do not follow her on any social media, go do it NOW!
First of all, I just wanted to say that I adore the cover of this book, it features a circle of women’s bodies, all different shapes and sizes. Me and my daughter had some fun when it first arrived trying to recreate as many of the poses as possible, which was fun. It’s such a great memory I have as I remember that no negative words were used towards any of the bodies from my little girl. She was amazed how these women could make all different shapes which made me able to explain to her how amazing all body shapes are and how they can do amazing things.
You have the right to remain fat is a short but incredibly sweet manifesto calling for the end of oppressive diet culture. At only 128 pages, it’s an easy read that will have you not only agreeing with a lot of it’s sentiments but also thinking about relatable times in your life, similar to the experiences that Virgie depicts. What makes this manifesto inspiring for me is that the author combines her own personal and relatable experiences of being fat with extensive research, Virgie is able to smash the wall that is diet culture into tiny little pieces. As I was reading I was literally sat thinking “oh yeahhhhhh” at so many points Virgie made – like when you have a moment of realisation. This book takes you on the author’s personal journey to loving her body, from childhood to adulthood.
As it is such a short manifesto, I don’t want to go into too much detail about the content as I’m sure plenty of you will enjoy reading this yourselves so what I thought was I would pick out some of my favourite quotes from the book and then share with you how they resonated with me.
“Everyone ends up in one of two camps: they are either living the pointed reality of fatphobic bigotry or they are living in fear of becoming subject to it”
This quote makes me think about most of the women I know at the moment who are dieting. Some are doing it to get to the ideal weight they think they should be – to society’s norm and is that so surprising? Just this morning Dan Walker cracked a joke about a fat person eating chocolate on BBC Breakfast. I literally screamed at the TV. It’s no wonder people feel like they need to lose weight and those who fit into societies norm are terrified of becoming the butt of the jokes, as joking about fat people is so common in friendship groups across the globe.
“The real problem is that women are angry and we are trained to turn that anger inward and experience it as shame. And yet we are told- and believe that – the problem is our inability to be thin”
I’ve been here so many times myself. Whenever I have been on a diet I’ve done it because I thought being thin would solve all the hate and anger I felt towards myself and every time I’ve been wrong. It wasn’t a magical cure to loving myself or my body. Which leads me onto the last quote that I really wanted to share
“I had been taught to believe that weight loss was the key to all my heart’s greatest desires, but the truth is that it wasn’t”
Before this quote Virgie had been explaining that for her, she dieted because she believed that through her weight loss she would deserve to travel, wear cute clothes and go on lots of dates with people she was hot for. But the truth is, we can do those things already. I’ve been on amazing holiday’s, snorkeled in the sea in Thailand, met the man of my dreams and got married as a fat woman. I live everyday knowing that my body has made me a mother and that I’m carrying our next addition to the family. My fat body is helping me grow another human being to bring into this world! I think Virgie is trying to say stop waiting and letting life pass you by when your amazing body can do all of these things right now.
In summary, whether you are just starting the journey to loving your body or you are as far down the line as I am, this book will certainly be a companion that you can turn to over and over again. It will help you understand and relate to feelings you’ve had, things you’ve been told about your body your whole life and how diet culture is oppressive and harmful.
I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.