My mom recently lent me the book All of Me: A Voluptuous Tale by Venise Berry. The cover puts me in mind of something that would be on Oprah's book club. Upon recommending it to me, she told me that the main character reminded her a lot of me.
I had a bit of a"Gee, thanks mom" moment when I began reading as it starts with the main character, Serpentine Williamson, in a psychiatric hospital after a suicide attempt. However, this is not what she was getting at. Serpentine is a black woman who has struggled with her weight all of her life, and recounts the events in her life that led up to her suicide attempt. She deals with fat-shaming from her family, her lovers, her workplace and from society around her.
This book pissed me off to no end, but in the way I think the author intended. I was angry FOR Serpentine and I could understand her frustration at the world around her for treating her like she was a less worthy human being for being fat.
The book also deals with the issue of not only being a fat woman, but a fat black woman. It was an interesting perspective for me to read, being white, since it's my understanding that there can be some significant differences between white women and black women's experiences with fat-shaming and body acceptance. These issues stem a lot from privilege, society's ownership of women's bodies, access to healthy food and activity, and media representation.
I related to Serpentine in her personal life - feeling less than worthy, feeling insecure and jealous of the thin, pretty girls (although in some cases the 'thin girls' were not too far off from me - when I lost the first chunk of weight, I had a few friends point out that we were almost the same size, even though I still felt like the fat girl of the group). I always felt incredulous when someone professed to be attracted to me.
The message of the book focuses a lot of being healthy. While being aware of all the external factors that have affected her, Serpentine also acknowledges her own responsibility in getting where she is, and uses her experiences to better herself and live a healthier life.
It was an enjoyable read. I recommend picking it up.