By the author of Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls and a heroine of the body image movement, an intimate, gutsy memoir about being a fat woman
Jes Baker burst onto the body positivity scene when she created her own ads mocking Abercrombie & Fitch for discriminating against all body types -- a move that landed her on the Today Show and garnered a loyal following for her raw, honest, and attitude-filled blog missives. Building on the manifesta power of Things , this memoir goes deeply into Jes's inner life, from growing up a fat girl to dating while fat. With material that will have readers laughing and crying along with Jes's experience, this new book is a natural fit with her irreverent, open-book style. A deeply personal take, Landwhale is a glimpse at life as a fat woman today, but it's also a reflection of the unforgiving ways our culture still treats fatness, all with Jes's biting voice as the guide.
Jes Baker is a positive, progressive, and magnificently irreverent force to be reckoned with in the realm of self-love advocacy and mental health. She believes in the importance of body autonomy, hard conversations, strong coffee, and even stronger language.
After creating satirical versions of Abercrombie & Fitch advertisements in 2013, she appeared on the Today Show and quickly became one of the leading voices in the current body image movement.
When not writing, Jes spends her time speaking around the world, working with plus size clothing companies, organizing body liberation events, taking pictures in her underwear and attempting to convince her cats that they like to wear bow ties.
Deep sigh. I love Jes Baker so fucking much, and I adore Things No One Tells Fat Girls, and I will wear my Landwhale enamel pin with great pride, but this book was a letdown :(
Do you know how, when you go to a food blog for a recipe, and all you need is the recipe but you're forced to scroll through a thousand-word story and wait for 95 pictures to load? That's how this book felt to me. I wondered if it might be better as an audiobook? Like, maybe the conversational tone works better in that medium?
In the end, I think it suffers from a lack of editing. The book begins with an extraordinary amount of self-deprecation (which, admittedly, is a personal pet peeve of mine. Your mileage may vary with this particular style), and the stories read as though Jes is processing them for the first time.
There's also a stylistic choice to include chapter endnotes, which are actually funny parenthetical asides and not references, so at the end of each chapter you're left with 10 or so snarky comments without context. I'm not sure that footnotes would have been better; I think they should have just been incorporated into the stories.
The unprocessed stories and the self-deprecation also point to a misconception about what memoir is: it's not supposed to be a recitation of your life; it's a selection, an edit, of stories that illustrate some larger theme or point. I found that, especially with the self-deprecation, that maybe in an effort to stay humble or relatable, Jes cut herself off from this larger theme and pulled the audience out of it also. I found myself frequently asking, especially in the beginning of the book, why I (the reader) needed to be present. What were we doing here?
Chapters 6 and 7 (Landwhale and Things I Thought I Couldn't Do But Did) are the first chapters that feel like they're not a confessional, but the pacing is so rushed that I got to the punchline and realized I'd missed the buildup, which is a bummer. Jes is incredibly funny and has amazing stories to share. This editing did not do her justice.
The chapters "David and Goliath" and "Pros and Cons of Being Fat" also get to some really deep, profound questions and musings. Sometimes, in an attempt to answer big questions, Jes slides into platitudes about magic happening in the messiness, which again, I think could have been edited out to make more of a punch. Being with the questions has a big impact.
I still love Jes, I still want to support the shit out of whatever she decides to do, but this book fell flat for me.
I give this a 3.5 out of 5.0 stars. This is a new book by writer Jes Baker, a brave and honest memoir sharing her weight battle and family issues during her life like many of us have had and can relate to. I know I had weight issues after having my son at 24, and I really struggled until about my mid 40’s. I was finally able to lose about 90 pounds mostly due to severe pain and medication issues, loss of appetite/nausea and being ill for several weeks when new doctors changed all of my medications at one time. I didn’t look at food the same for a very long time. So I do understand what the author means, and she is so very brave to put herself out there as an advocate for body image acceptance.
This book is worth checking out if you have weight issues or used to, or are close to someone who does, Jes has a great way of telling her story and sticking up for herself and others after going through what she went through. We all have different family issues we deal with. And dating issues, etc. It sounds like she’s put together some pretty great resources through her years in this area of work. An advance digital copy was provided by NetGalley, author Jes Baker, and the publisher for my honest review.
Can Jes Baker be anymore unlikable? This was like reading a 200 page tumblr rant with the bonus of a two page trigger warning.
She basically has an eating disorder, just on the other end of the spectrum. Shes scared to lose weight out of fear she will lose "fans" and followers. She mentions other personalities who have been criticized and abandoned after losing weight, which makes me question the movement entirely.
I understand wanting body acceptance, there isnt anything wrong with that. The problem comes when that acceptance only comes with an 'acceptable number.' If you lose weight and lose fans then they dont accept you and they never did. This isnt any different than a run way model being made fun of for visible cellulite.
Can I also add that jes is incredibly rude, conceited, and ridiculous. She blamed chair makers for her inability to fit into a ride. She mentions her friend who weighs the same fit with ease. Apparently the chair makers need to accommodate her individual and unique fat deposits. "Muh genetics!"
This book could have easily been edited to 3 pages of "Reeeeeeeeeeee!" For the same desired effect.
She didn't even want to take her ADD meds because they stopped her from obsessing over food. She says she needs her midnight binges to calm the depression she doesnt have.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I wasn't sure whether to give this a 2 or a 3, so I decided to round up, because ultimately I'm glad it exists for the people who are getting a lot out of it, but I'm not one of them. (to be clear: I think Jes Baker is rad and her work in general is fantastic + important, but I don't think this book was the greatest.)
I am an awkward person. I generally think anyone who's been around me for more than like 3 minutes can tell this is true. For a really long time, this was something I disliked about myself and well, as you can imagine, the more time you spend obsessing over a quality of yours, the more prominent it becomes.
I was talking about this with my best friend a few days ago and his immediate comment was, "what?? I love your awkwardness! It's so you!!". I found myself thinking that that's really what growing up and coming into your own is. It's about being able to embrace the things about yourself that you don't like and seeing how the people around will also do so and will then help you continue to do it.
In many ways, this means that nowadays I'm able to brush aside people that don't see it this positively because heck yeah, that's who I am and it's hilarious, and it opens the door to funny stories and it's mine.
What I'm trying to say is that I'm there already. This book preaches some fantastic ideas but I'm not the right audience anymore and therefore, I'm not quite sure how to rate it. I'm at a point in my life where I've never been more confident. Even though my grades have never been lower, I feel so satisfied with everything I'm doing.
Ultimately, I feel like trans issues have marginalized me significantly more than my weight. I genuinely do not find myself focusing on it and really, I'm more than happy that that's how it is. I think we all pick the battle that defines us and for me, the queerness that I can't hide concerns me much more than my size.
Jes Baker is lovely and has done a huge psychological process. She should be very proud of herself. This book which is made out of short essays is well written and intelligent, with bits of humor sparkled in. Even if it think some editing would have gone a long way, it's still a very easy read.
Ultimately, I just couldn't entirely relate because at this point, I'm so over body issues. I've seen my legs carry me through half marathons. My arms have managed to carry my backpack through months of traveling. How can I possibly foster hate towards the very thing that keeps me alive?
And I get that it's not that easy. I've been doing long distance running for so long that the knowledge that I'm in better shape than most of the people around me definitely makes things feel different. Beyond that, I'm so fortunate to not feel these things, to be surrounded by people that just are fantastic.
So, do I recommend this book? I think it's empowering. Beyond that, I think people who haven't ever experienced being overweight should read this in order to get a sense of empathy because man, some issues do not get enough attention. I can't say that this book was particularly helpful for me but perhaps you'll enjoy it more.
what I'm taking with me • Idk Jes, Americans are so distinctive in Europe, even if they're not overweight. I don't think that's why people recognized the Americanness. • I would love to hear more about Jes' tattoos. • Andy sounds like a great person and they seem very cute together.
Landwhale was a big disappointment. I kind of enjoyed Jes Bakers first book, but this one is one big frustration. I can explain all the positive reviews only with hardcore fandom, ideology and confirmation bias. Sorry folks. This book lacks structure, massively. It feels like an arbitrary collection of diary entries. In large parts its simply boring. And overall its not original at all. Its kind of a confused version of 'things no one will tell fat girls' and that really means something (since Jes was never strong with structure). Besides that the book is full of bad advice (mostly anti science though Jes is probably not aware of it). Like in 'things no one will tell fat girls' Baker uses again strong language (I cannot count all the 'fucks') but it lost its fresh appeal and turns into being annoying. Yes she does offer some insights into rather sad chapters of her life but again there is nothing unusual to be found, especially her writing style is not captivating at all but rather makes it hard to focus. Jes Bakers strength is writing short blog entries, she should return to doing that (instead of books).
I know that women try to re-claim the word 'bitch' and 'cunt', among other sexist slurs, to empower themselves and so on. And while the background and use is not exactly the same, I see some black people do the same to the word 'nigger', or gays with the word 'faggot' (or fag)
So apparently Jes thinks she's being so empowering by trying to do the same with the word 'landwhale'. Which is ironic because do you know what actual whales were hunted for? Blubber. A-yup.
This book is much of the same nonsense, mixed in with a huge dose of self-aggrandisation - much of it thinly disguised as pitiful attempts at self-depreciation in a poor attempt to seem clever/funny.
Nothing wrong with someone taking an occasional dig at him or herself, but she does it so many times through the book that it just stopped being cute/funny early on. Mix that in with the usual FA/HAES shit, and 'omg the meeeeeeeasn patriarchy' and you have a book that's just a hot mess.
Also, is it just me, or does the cover make you think of Crystal from the TV show Squidbillies? It's almost the same fucking pose you always see Crystal in. Damn, now I'm nostalgic for the show...
I tried to finish the book, really I did. I listened to two discs before I had to turn her off and be done.
Jes Baker has issues that started when she was very young, and she still has yet to resolve them, in my opinion. For having been raised a Mormon, she sure has given the flying finger to everything she was taught. It's pretty obvious she turned against her religion because of her anger at her father and at having spent time at a school notorious for the girls going to receive their MRS degree, yet she didn't get hers.
She clearly doesn't care that her vocabulary leaves a lot to be desired. She's like a 4-year-old who just learned how to swear, so she uses bad words as often as possible. I work for a construction company, and she used foul language more in the first chapter than I've heard these guys use in the nearly three years I've worked there. She did not get the memo that you don't use vulgar language in general conversation, which would include books being read by the the general population. If you want to show your lack of verbal skills, then have at it with your friends. I found it offensive and inappropriate in her book.
Rather than whine about how fat she is, maybe she should put her efforts toward learning that diet and exercise are the only way to gain control. Learn that lean or heavy people are lovable when they have good personalities. People don't generally dislike someone for their weight; it's usually for who they are and what they portray.
Maybe someday Jes will learn that as an adult, her life is in her control and not the product of her past.
This is a great follow up to "Things No One Tells Fat Girls" which I recommend reading before this one. Landwhale is a collection of essays where she gets much more personal- as it's a memoir rather than a "handbook" like her previous book. She talks about some really painful experiences in her life and about navigating in a fatphobic world. I appreciate her bravery in being so open, honest, and vulnerable, she will definitely push you to really examine your own biases about others and yourself.
I read this one, but want to listen to the audiobook also, like I did for her previous book.
What I loved most about this were the sincere moments of vulnerability and authenticity. Jes is someone I could listen to -- and she narrates the audio, which is fantastic -- because she doesn't have all the answers. She's making mistakes and messing up and is herself messy. But that's who she is and she embraces it.
I was especially moved by the PCOS chapter, and I really am onboard with her beliefs about body liberation vs. body love. As someone who has always been fat but who has also lost a significant amount of weight in the last year and is no longer "plus size," I struggle with where I fit into the movement of body and fat acceptance. It was nice to be reminded that when labels are placed upon people who were, then weren't, within a certain status, that's as much about shaming and blaming as anything. The problem is diet culture and, ultimately, capitalism. It's not the individual who makes choices about how they operate and live in their bodies.
Landwhale is many things: it is a delightful read, a harrowing read, an emotionally-charged read, and one that invokes laughter at times, as well as pangs of sympathy and empathy for chapters covering topics we need to continue discussing openly. Topics we may be ashamed to talk about such as controversial opinions on body image, eating disorders, the connection of religion and morality to food and body size, being an imperfect body liberation advocate, the importance of the body acceptance/liberation movement within feminism, and more.
I love Jes Baker's voice. You know when you're reading that she ~is~ speaking to her readers, not just at them. There's a difference, and it can make the difference between a book being a pleasure or a rather wordy necessity. Jes is smart and sharp, but she is also incredibly compassionate and this comes across beautifully in the honest way in which she lays out so many of her most important messages within the book - as well as those that were likely included if just to make the reader smile/chuckle.
I was so excited to be given access to this ARC and it certainly did not disappoint. I greatly appreciated Baker sharing some of her most influential/favorite activists, and am very glad to have her voice out there and making noise as well. 5/5
I loved Jes Baker's book Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls, and was excited to read this memoir. Her willingness to be unflinchingly and yet compassionately honest about the really hard things in life is SUCH a breath of fresh air in our culture, and Landwhale is no exception. There were times it was hard to breathe while reading about the things Jes has gone through - that unfortunately many people have gone through and/or can relate to.
My one criticism is that the book was a bit all over the place - it seemed part memoir, part body-positive essay collection, and there were times where it didn't flow that well from chapter to chapter. That being said, every word Jes Baker's written in this book is 100% worth reading.
*Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC, provided by the author and/or the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Was so glad I got to attend the book launch in Tucson and absolutely loved this book front to back! Landwhale is such a raw and intimate look into body image and the conversations that so many others are afraid to have about what we feel as plus women in the world.
Jes Baker takes vulnerability to a whole new level- covering everything from fat sex (and the internal conversations that happen around it) to online harassment and even a painful look at family and how their worldviews shape our own... for better or worse. Must read if you're looking to dig deeper and want to have a meaningful conversation about the complexities that arise while walking through this world.
The book itself may not be "perfect" but that is one of Jes's messages throughout the entire memoir: very little is.
What an incredible and humanizing read. I've followed Jes for a few years now and her first book was light a gift sent from above for me as I began to navigate the wold of body positivity. This follow up is just as amazing and even more heartwarming in how vulnerable and trusting Jes is in the pages. She opens up and allows her readers an inside glance at all that comes with her life. She never comes off as asking for pitty or a pat on the back for what she has experience, but rather as a senior camp counselor taking the younger campers under her wing and telling it like it is so we aren't surprised or taken aback. I can't thank Jes enough for writing this book and being so trusting with her audience. Everybody needs to read this book.
I don't normally write reviews, but I had to. Jes is an amazing human being, and I'll be forever grateful she thrust her heart, soul and humor into the universe. Because I listened to the audio book, I found myself crying at work during a particularly relatable chapter. The tears were probably long overdue, but consider yourself warned just the same. ;)
Aside from some much needed emotional catharsis, most of the book is very uplifting and inspiring. She says that sharing herself and her story has largely been a powerful experience. I think watching her be so vulnerable, open and honest about her struggles and achievements is powerful too... at least it was for me. I suspect it will be for you too.
I really dislike people who have weight stigma.It's like people who are healthy say just eat right and work out.It's not that easy ,and if it was then everyone would be fine.People don't know the back story on everyone.Take me I have a father who is in his 70's.A mother who has mental illness.My husband had cancer. It's just not helpful when people say you will be fine ,and it will be okay. I might not have kids.I might never get under a size 12.I do know that with love everything is better! I love that the author took the picture on the beach!
When I read Jes’ writing, I feel like she is speaking right to me. Her book, Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls, absolutely changed my life and my way of thinking. I felt like I was having a true conversation with a friend. Landwhale definitely did not disappoint! Once again, her wisdom has a way of putting so many of my own thoughts and feelings onto paper. I found myself scribbling many of these thoughts in my journal to digest and read again later. For every fat girl who has struggled with her sense of self, read Jes’ book. For anyone who loves a fat girl, read Jes’ book.
I somehow found Jes Baker on tumblr around the same time I was failing out of Weight Watchers and I am only the more better for reading all she has to offer.
There were parts of this book I could relate to deeply, such as the story about having to try the fat seat before riding the Harry Potter ride. Reading about her childhood and relationships hit home. But what I most love about Jes Baker and this book is her ability to call out what is hard about fat acceptance and to challenge myself to look at how my fatness and privilege intersect.
This book is fabulous. So fabulous that when I read the last page I wished there was more. Jes is an inspirational leader in the body positivity movement and this book is vulnerable and inspiring. I recommend everyone read this. Thank you, Jes. Read as part of the 2018 PopSugar reading challenge as a book with an animal in the title.
Despite having a little trouble getting into it, this is an absolute must read. So much of what Jes says resonates with me, and it was perfect timing to be reading the words of such an unapologetically strong, loud woman. I took notes that I’ll be referring back to at times when it all feels too hard and like too much. Jes takes up space and I take up space and I appreciated being reminded why that is so important. I also must give her kudos for acknowledging the privilege we both share in being white fat women. Our experiences are not the same as those of fat WOC and it’s important that we never lose sight of that.
I walked away from this book very conflicted, and I don't mean that as a knock on the author - she gets people thinking. I'd actually come very close to calling this a must-read.
Although this is a somewhat random hybrid of memoir, self help and fat-acceptance essays, I think the combination works. She lives all of that in her daily life so it makes sense that they'd be intertwined in pseudo memoirs. I don't read her blog and wasn't familiar with her name, so her writing was all new to me and I found her voice to be a strong one, and her a person willing to explore the myriad issues facing women today. She covers most or all of them, from the harassment women face online (including the decision of a plus-sized advocate to undergo weight loss surgery) to doctors asking about comfort food when you're there for birth control meds, and beyond. I felt like I'd love hearing her give a talk as I had a number of ohhh shit moments.
I found myself doing a double take when she shared her evening looking at herself in profile and trying to suck in her gut to keep the balance that her breasts should be more prominent than her stomach and later when she hated all images from the bikini body shoot. I always looked at the HAES movement as body acceptance and I found myself wondering whether she was so anti Diet Culture that she refused to consider whether she'd be happier in her own skin if she lost some weight. I was also surprised at her quitting a dance class she was enjoying simply because someone said it looked like she might have lost some weight. Losing weight doesn’t need to be a goal for everyone, but she seemed to take avoiding it to an extreme.
I think she was conflicted, something she later revisited when questioning whether she should take meds her doctor prescribed for a chemical issue when they had the known side effect of controlling hunger. There's no easy answer to this. I like her idea of liberation vs. love.
My one real issue was toward the end when she referred to Diet Culture as "also known as 'That No-Fun Fatphobic Lifestyle". That's really not fair and I think goes against her tenet throughout the book that Person A is the only person with input on what Person A's body looks like and whether they're happy with that. If skinny person B should STFU about Fat Person A, then it applies the other way around too. No one should be generalized based on a scale number, fat or thin.
All in all a weighty read, but one I truly enjoyed and would recommend. Thanks, NetGalley
Oh, I'm struggling to review this book. First, the positives: I knew NOTHING about the body positive movement before picking up this book. I've since learned some stuffs; and Jes Baker has a fun voice that's fun to read. I think that is why I continued to read and not put it down. Here's the thing, I'm a big proponent of people writing memoirs AFTER they have lived through or done a thing. Baker writes she's been at this for "half a dozen years". Hmm, hmm. I'd be more interested in hearing about what she has to say in 20 or 25. The majority of the book reads like one big, long blog post. And, spoiler alert, the ending is Baker has not yet figured out how to feel about her body or how anyone should feel about their body because we are all works in progress. Truth. However, that lends itself to maybe we should hold off writing a memoir until we HAVE come to a conclusion. Sigh. I know publishers are doing what they have to do to stay in business and that jumping on the popularity of a blogger to make quick sales of books may be a tactic. While you wouldn't catch me picking up Grumpy Cat's Life Advise, I did pick this up hoping to see how someone of a larger size makes a great life by owning it. This is not that book. I come out of this wiser, but feeling a little burned.
Thank you to NetGalley and Perseus Books for providing this ARC to me in exchange for an honest review.
While I have never been subject to public name-calling or harassment, or anything like that (unless it was done behind my back, which hey, entirely possible), I could totally relate to Jes Baker's life. SO many things here are so me, that it's really too personal for me to put out there. Size issues, dad issues, memories of being the fat kid when I wasn't even fat as a kid (I just always heard it from people, mainly just my grandfather, but I wasn't), childfree-ness... even the travel anxiety! I highlighted so many places, but my Kindle just died, so I can't list them all here.
The message of body liberation is such an important one. I don't know if I will ever get there.
I did have some problems with the formatting of the footnotes, especially when they popped up during passages that consisted of a numbered list. That could just be my Kindle, or maybe it just hasn't been formatted correctly yet.
Jes Baker does it again. She wrote this incredible book in such a way that her vulnerability connects you to her and makes you feel so much less alone. Her realness on not wanting to be a "super hero", and her fears and failures are incredibly relatable. I will forever be thankful for her exposing that she too sometimes wishes that she was thinner, because it would be easier. That thought makes all of us who are fighting for body equality and fat positive spaces feel so guilty, but it's a real thought. It's honest. As I read this book I imagined Jes laying on the floor telling me these things, in a way that expressed that she's not trying to impress me, these are her truths, and she has nothing more to give then this. I appreciate her baring her soul to help heal me and others. It is not easy, and it is brave and the world needs more vulnerability.
This book started as funny and light-hearted, but the it took a serious turn. What a read. You know a book is good when 1) you read slow to not get to the end and 2) when you get to the end you wish there was more. The author was open, honest and she showed her vulnerabilities. This author gives one something to think about if one allows themselves to. Thanks to NetGalley, the author and the publisher for the ARC of this book in return for my honest review.
What a book! I expected no less from Jes Baker. Her writing style is right up my alley and fairly similar to mine and I was SO happy my dad agreed to buy a book for me because I’ve wanted to read this since it came out! Jes drops so many truth bombs it’s hard to keep track. I loved every page!!! Highly recommend to all!