“Two Whole Cakes: How to Stop Dieting and Learn to Love Your Body” by Lesley Kinzel

I have come a bit late to Kinzel’s excellent book/memoir/manifesto. Perhaps because I was a little put off by the title, which frankly makes me cringe. Perhaps because I have read so many books urging me to ‘love my body, get off the dieting roller coaster, transform my life’.

However – ignore the misleading title.

Two Whole Cakes: How to Stop Dieting and Love Your Body

Two Whole Cakes: How to Stop Dieting and Learn to Love Your Body

Kinzel writes astutely and movingly and soon you are caught up in her thoughts and musings on fat acceptance, body politics, a lifetime ‘wasted’ dieting as well as the importance of fashionable clothes. Unlike some others, I didn’t feel it was intrinsically a feminist perspective – more a human call to action that we should accept all bodies.

Currently Deputy Editor of online women’s magazine xoJane, Kinzel founded ‘Fatshionista’ and then went on to post her  ‘sociological and political views’ of fat via her blog, Two Whole Cakes.

Published by The Feminist Press in 2012, her book largely draws on these posts. There are no chapters (for those who like that sort of thing) and it is relatively short. But don’t let that deceive you – it packs a powerful punch.

Of course, you don’t need to have what Kinzel calls ‘death fat’ to be affected by a culture which demonises and stigmatises those whose body size is outside a cultural norm. Anyone who has suffered from poor body confidence – whatever their size – will find solace in this book. She declares:

‘Your body is not a tragedy…the tragedy is the effort required to build a loving relationship – or at least one of tacit acceptance – with your body…we learn to criticise and dissociate from our bodies. Then we must spend our remaining years trying to rebuild that relationship.’

And being a fat woman who loves clothes? Kinzel writes bitterly of her efforts to dress fashionably and her decision to ignore the ‘fat girl’ dress code: no horizontal stripes, no bright colours, no frills, yes to disappearing into the background. (Sound depressingly familiar?) Kinzel advocates ‘fatshion’: increase your visibility, she urges, don’t mask your body.

With regard to the media, Kinzel quite properly skewers programmes such as The Biggest Loser. She is highly critical of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign (aimed at curbing childhood obesity). We don’t help by ‘making a scapegoat of fat children’, she writes, and we must avoid ‘making the personal political’. She credits fat activist Marilyn Wann with this insight:

‘…the only thing you can tell for sure by looking at a fat person is your own degree of bias against fat people.’

Her experience of the Jenny Craig weight loss system (a diet based on delivered, pre-packaged meals) is priceless and ironic, unlike her criticism of weight loss drugs. Here she reminds us of the dangers of a society where many go to quite desperate lengths to lose weight. (I would have liked more on her experiences, particularly with dieting culture.)

Her observations on the many euphemisms used to describe a fat body echo my own, for I’ve always disliked the way we hide behind such words as overweight, curvy, plump, etc. Throughout Two Whole Cakes Kinzel reclaims the ‘fat’ word from its use as a term of derision and scorn.

She describes how she came to feel that her body ‘would hold on to its weight’ despite all efforts (in line with growing evidence that some of us are hardwired to maintain a particular body weight).  She has obviously come to terms with being fat, supported by a like-minded community online which she movingly describes

Interested? Lesley Kinzel writes regularly for xoJane, tweets as @52Stations and has a website,www.lesleykinzel.com. She appears in the media where she advocates for body diversity and acceptance. And fun clothes, whatever your size.

Author Lesley Kinzel

Author Lesley Kinzel

From Two Whole Cakes:

“Hanne Blank..was the first person whom I heard say it was okay to refuse the scale at the doctor’s office. Hanne calls it ‘post-traumatic scale disorder,’ by which she explains the tendency to have disordered thinking as a result of being summed up as a number – a number that is considered abnormal.”

 

 

 

 

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