Julie Ehlers's Reviews > Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud by Anne Helen Petersen
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it was amazing
bookshelves: famous-people, feminism-and-gender, free-library

Buzzfeed, to me, has always been a crappy website dominated by dumb gif-filled listicles. When I saw the title of this book, I was immediately interested in the topic; when I saw it was written by a Buzzfeed "culture writer," I became less interested. But I had the opportunity to be first on the library holds list for Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud, so I decided to take a chance on it and I'm glad I did. What with gossip sites, social networking, and endless cable "reality" shows, celebrity is woven through our lives more than ever before, whether we like it or not, so it makes sense to examine it—but only if you're really willing to be thoughtful and thorough. After all, pop culture is a product of our larger culture; it both reflects it and influences it. If you're not taking that seriously, then why even look at these issues at all?

Fortunately, Anne Helen Petersen takes it seriously. She's got a PhD in "media studies," which, presumably along with her stint at Buzzfeed, has resulted in a book that's both exceedingly smart and exceedingly readable. Each chapter looks at a different female celebrity and the ways she is unique, outspoken, and "unruly," and the way the culture pushes back at her for that—by calling her "too shrill," "too fat," etc.—and then further connects these women's dilemmas to larger issues in our society. You might think being reminded over and over again of the ways U.S. culture tries to limit women would be depressing, but for me it wasn't. It's these women's massive popularity, after all, that has resulted in backlash against them. They clearly speak for or represent something important to a lot of people, and none of them show any signs of allowing criticism to slow them down. That's inspiring, and often fascinating to read about.

I'm emphatically not a fan of a couple of women in this book. Jennifer Weiner, for example, really annoys me, and I have a lot of (sometimes contradictory) opinions about sexism and gender divisions in the world of literature and publishing. I spent a lot of this chapter pacing around my apartment and muttering to myself, but eventually acknowledged that the fact that the book was provoking such a strong reaction was a good thing. Some of my differences of opinion with Petersen were probably age-based; I'm about 10 years older than she is. I was therefore skeptical of her talk about Kim Kardashian's "power," and as someone who remembers firsthand the days when Madonna was genuinely influential, I thought Petersen was a little hard on her. Even so, I learned something from every chapter, and I think that says good things about Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud—even if (or especially if) you're skeptical of its thesis, or not a fan of any of these women, this book will definitely give you some new things to think about. What more can we ask of a book about our culture?

As my Buzzfeed remark above might imply, I consider myself a limited consumer of popular culture: I don't watch much TV, I think gossip sites and reality shows are harmful (at least to my own well-being, if not to our entire society), and I certainly don't worship any stars, even the ones whose talent I admire. But there's really no denying that pop culture and celebrity affect us all—for the ultimate depressing example of that effect, just look at who's currently the U.S. president. Even if you don't consider yourself particularly starstruck, Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud is a fun and interesting way to learn more about both the state of our entertainment and, correspondingly, the state of our world.
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Reading Progress

February 1, 2017 – Shelved
February 1, 2017 – Shelved as: wish-list
August 1, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
August 15, 2017 – Started Reading
August 17, 2017 –
page 40
17.09% "Really good so far. Very well written."
August 18, 2017 –
page 106
45.3%
August 19, 2017 – Shelved as: famous-people
August 19, 2017 – Shelved as: feminism-and-gender
August 19, 2017 – Shelved as: free-library
August 19, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-23 of 23 (23 new)

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Sarah Excellent review! Can't wait to read this.


Julie Ehlers Sarah wrote: "Excellent review! Can't wait to read this."

Thanks! :) It really did surpass my expectations.


message 3: by Dianne (new)

Dianne Really good review, Julie! I was going to skip this one, but I think you've convinced me to give it a go.


message 4: by Cindy (new) - added it

Cindy Burnett Fabulous review. Will add it to my TBR


Julie Ehlers Thanks, Dianne and Cindy! Hope you both enjoy it and get something out of it. :)


message 6: by Jen (new)

Jen Great review, Julie. Sounds fascinating --


Julie Ehlers Jen wrote: "Great review, Julie. Sounds fascinating --"

Thanks, Jen!


rachel Great review. I'm not sure it's for me, given that I'm also dubious of Kim Kardashian and really not a fan of Jennifer Weiner at all, either. But I am intrigued by the fact that you enjoyed it despite not being interested in celebrity culture (same).


message 9: by Bianca (new) - added it

Bianca Thank you for writing such an in-depth review. I'm tempted to add it, although I, like you, roll my eyes at buzzfeed and I have great disdain for anything "reality TV" and I hate this adulation of people with no merits, who contribute nothing and don't stand for anything but getting richer and buying more shit.


Julie Ehlers rachel wrote: "Great review. I'm not sure it's for me, given that I'm also dubious of Kim Kardashian and really not a fan of Jennifer Weiner at all, either. But I am intrigued by the fact that you enjoyed it desp..."

Thanks, Rachel. It does cover a lot of other famous women besides those two, and I agreed with a lot of what she says. But it is hard not to roll your eyes at someone who seems to take Kim Kardashian seriously. :)


Julie Ehlers Bianca wrote: "Thank you for writing such an in-depth review. I'm tempted to add it, although I, like you, roll my eyes at buzzfeed and I have great disdain for anything "reality TV" and I hate this adulation of ..."

Thanks, Bianca. I agree, reality TV "stars" are the worst. It's possible I referenced reality TV too much in this review, though, because Kim Kardashian is the only reality star who gets an in-depth treatment. All the others are people with genuine talents. :)


message 12: by Debbie (new) - added it

Debbie Wonderful review! You've piqued my interest! I think the age difference would affect me too, but I think I'm adding. I am fascinated by the power of entertainment, though Kim K and her family pretty much make me sick. I remember years ago when Barbara Walters included her in her top 10 most influential people--it made a lot of people mad, including me.


Julie Ehlers Debbie wrote: "Wonderful review! You've piqued my interest! I think the age difference would affect me too, but I think I'm adding. I am fascinated by the power of entertainment, though Kim K and her family prett..."

Thanks, Debbie. I hate the idea of Kim Kardashian being influential too, but I guess to some younger people she is...? I've never met anyone who likes her but she's certainly successful in her own way. It was interesting to read this book's consideration of her, even if I was skeptical.


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

fantastic! that was great!


Julie Ehlers paulie wrote: "fantastic! that was great!"

Thank you! :)


message 16: by Esil (new) - added it

Esil Sounds like one I should try. Thanks for putting it on my radar, Julie.


Julie Ehlers Esil wrote: "Sounds like one I should try. Thanks for putting it on my radar, Julie."

Hope you enjoy it, Esil!


Kelli I'm old, I don't watch tv & I never know who the people are anymore when I flip through US magazine at the salon, but I love your review & I think this will end up in my book like sooner or later. PS. I'm jealous you l ow what number you are on the hold list and even typing that comment I'm dating myself bc I'm assuming you mean for the physical book but you may be talking digital.


Julie Ehlers Kelli wrote: "I'm old, I don't watch tv & I never know who the people are anymore when I flip through US magazine at the salon, but I love your review & I think this will end up in my book like sooner or later. ..."

I'm also old, but a few of the celebs covered are in our age group! :) I do get physical books from the library--I hate ebooks. But with a little vigilance I have been able to be first on the holds list for quite a few new books. I only started using the library in January, so I'm pretty proud of my prowess. :)


message 20: by Deanna (new)

Deanna Great review, Julie. I'm adding this one!


Julie Ehlers Deanna wrote: "Great review, Julie. I'm adding this one!"

Thanks, Deanna! Hope you like it. :)


Kelli Now that I’ve listened to this audio I love your review.


Julie Ehlers Kelli wrote: "Now that I’ve listened to this audio I love your review."

Thanks, Kelli! I'll go check out your review now. :)


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