I am so lucky to get reader email. I say lucky, because it’s sort of incredible that anyone would even take the time to contact me when there is homework to do and children to feed and presidential candidates to make fun of.
That being said, reader email can be all over the place. It ranges from OMG-I-LOVE-YOU-THANK-YOU to DIE-BITCH-DIE. The best conversations usually happen somewhere in between. And yet you might be surprised to know that the reader email that breaks my heart the most has nothing to do with my book.
Since DUMPLIN’ released on September 15th, I have received so many versions of this email so many times that I’ve decided to publicly respond. The email usually goes a little something like this:
I really loved your book so much, but I just don’t feel like it’s believable. The hot guy doesn’t go for the fat girl in real life. And two guys like Willowdean? I wish it could be true, but I just don’t buy it. The rest of the book was great. Thank you!
- Lovely Reader
In the words of Willowdean herself: SIGH.
I understand. I get it. I do.
This post (though it may seem like it) is not about my book. I am human. I wrote a book. It has imperfections as do I. The fat girl getting the/a guy is not an imperfection. It is not unbelievable. In this way, I can tell you that the book I wrote is not broken. The world around us is. We have been taught that we are not worthy. We are not deserving. It’s a lie.
No matter how badly we want to love ourselves and our bodies, society has trained us to have this knee jerk reaction/pit of your stomach feeling that says HA! NO WAY WOULD THAT HAPPEN IN REAL LIFE!
So every time I get this email, I want to give the person on the other end a suffocatingly tight hug and whisper in their ear, “The fat girl gets the guy. Or the girl. Or the person. Or the thing they want. YOU get the guy/girl/person/thing.”
This isn’t about hot boys. This is about wanting, demanding, and having things we (FAT PEOPLE!) are not “allowed” to have. But I will say this: when you see a fat person and a thin or traditionally attractive person together, it isn’t some accidental universal slip. It isn’t always a fetish or a case of aiming low. (Though sometimes it is and that’s another post for another day.) In most cases, it is two people who have come together as a unit because they are wholly attracted to one another. Inside and out.
Society is broken. But you don’t have to be and choosing not to be is the first step to fixing the world we live in.
YOU get the guy. You get the girl. You get the person. You get the thing–WHATEVER it might be. Believe it, because this isn’t wish fulfillment. It’s fucking true.
It’s that time again, kids! Back to school and back to Reblog Book Club!
Beginning on September 15th, we’re reading Dumplin’ by the delightful Julie Murphy! You may have already heard great early buzz around Tumblr, but just in case, here’s what it’s about:
Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American-beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.
Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.
This book is full of humor and heart, but also nuance and difficult questions about friendship, family, and growing up. The characters are unforgettable and we can’t wait to hear what you have to say about them. More details and a reading schedule will be up soon!
I’ve wasted a lot of time in my life. I’ve thought too much about what people will say or what they’re gonna think. And sometimes it’s over silly things like going to the grocery store or going to the post office. But there have been times when I really stopped myself from doing something special. All because I was scared someone might look at me and decide I wasn’t good enough. But you don’t have to bother with that nonsense. I wasted all that time so you don’t have to.
“The word fat makes people uncomfortable. But when you see me, the first thing you notice is my body. And my body is fat. It’s like how I notice some girls have big boobs or shiny hair or knobby knees. Those things are okay to say. But the word fat, the one that best describes me, makes lips frown and cheeks lose their color.”