Book Review: ‘Fat Girl’ by Susan Bodiker



This term I started taking a class on the New Testament that explores the image of Jesus through the lens of race, among other topics. My teacher has assigned many high-level readings exploring topics including white fragility (check out R DiAngelo’s “White Fragility.”) Susan Bodiker’s Fat Girl is reminiscent of those readings in its formal tone and  its broadening of personal experiences to a societal experience. However, unlike many of those papers, Fat Girl is a rushed and unorganized collection of reflections on body image and weight.

Fat Girl explores how our childhood struggles with weight and body image affect our self-esteem even in adulthood. Part memoir, part pseudo-psychoanalysis book, part how-to, Susan shares her own story of self-healing and offers “actionable” ways to change thoughts about food and body, better nourish the body and the mind, let go of emotional baggage. This book is not “a no-fail diet plan; a recipe for the perfect life, or a strict nutritionist ideology.” It’s something deeper than that, as Fat Girl can be “a lifeline out of the darkness; a roadmap to greater awareness and self-esteem, a set of tools that just might set you free.”

Fat Girl‘s only flaw is its aim to accomplish more goals than what is appropriate for a forty-five page ebook. In forty-five pages, Bodiker attempts to narrate and reflect upon her traumatic childhood struggles with weight, give parents advice on child-raising, provide an overview on disordered eating, and offer tips on gaining a healthy mindset and lifestyle. The result is a rushed mess; Bodiker barely scratches the surface of any of her aims. I really wanted Bodiker to go beyond simply summarizing papers and books, in particular Bethany Webster’s Transforming the Inner Mother, and actually extend such research to her own experiences and insights.

This being said, Fat Girl has its redeeming qualities. Susan Bodiker’s prose is both precise and evocative, at times so breathtaking that the words took my breath away. She describes her old mindset on food: “an embrace that softened the cold perfectionism of my household and the harsh expectations,” and “her refuge.” I highlighted those phrases immediately; she brilliantly captured the struggle many face with food and other substances.

Fat Girl‘s prose can almost make up for its glaring flaws, the key word being “almost.” Susan Bodiker has a true talent for writing, and she is very skilled at analyzing both herself and others. However, the author never utilized her analysis skills in the first place.

Rating: 5 out of 10
Publisher: Smith Publicity (January 13th, 2015)
ISBN #: 1634132771
Length: 45 pages (Kindle edition)
Source: Netgalley

Valerie is sixteen. She attends a boarding school near Boston, where she writes, reads, and attempts to be a studious student. She's too lazy to write the rest of this bio, so follow her on Twitter @torquoiseworld because shameless self-promotion is alive and thriving!