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Jeff's Review Corner: Today's Book: Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love & Fashion. Edited by Virgie Tovar.
The first segment on life is likely the most evocative section of the whole and, to me at least, felt the most open, personal, and meaningful. Each individual tale of coming to accept their bodies may come off as redundant to some after the first few instances, but I felt that repetition was vital to the central core of the size-acceptance movement as a whole; the very audacity of not just accepting, but lovingly embracing, one's body type regardless of height or weight is the perfect representation of what the future may yet hold for those who dare to defy the expected social norms of westernized society. It felt the most insightful and candid, again at least to me, that these women should, without shame or hesitation, stand up and be counted among the beautiful collective of humankind.
If I were to find fault in the book (and I must or else this review would be awful short), some of the "love" excerpts felt a lot like “sex” excerpts. This is just a thing I have in general, not necessarily a shortcoming found exclusively in these pages, but I feel it need be said: any kind of indication that the movement is a fetishization rather than acceptance of larger men and women always has been and will always remain a detriment to the movement proper. However, it must be said that most of the stories did not fall into that niche. Rather, they tended more to be an extension of acceptance - both to the self and to someone other than themselves in order to find a personal and interpersonal whole, which I must admit, I am a huge sucker for. And, I must confess, I found the fashion section a little bit of a drag, it kind of felt like the book ended on its weakest chapter rather than its strongest. It's not that the stories ceased having all meaning or anything of the sort - perish the thought, I couldn't stop turning the pages all the way to the end – but it was undoubtedly the shortest and softest chapter without that really fierce, cutting-edge hardline that would've wrapped up such a section a bit more succinctly. A little more venom towards those that shun the plus-sized community might've been the the last period on what was otherwise a solid work, but perhaps taking a gentler, more progressive stance would appeal more to non-male mindsets that the book is more geared toward. If it were me, I'd think putting the fashion segment first, and life last might've made a more poignant, arching narrative.
In the end, my complaints are mere nitpicking. The book is fantastic from cover to cover and I lack the words necessary to sing its praises quite properly. It's deep and has a definitive impact on its reader without being pandering. It's eloquent and emotional, while maintaining a refined understanding of the conversational tone. It's a short collection with a long-reaching message that will reverberate throughout the future until such a time comes when size-acceptance is every bit as commonplace as accepting that humans are all beautiful by virtue of being alive. Until that day comes, Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love & Fashion will stand out as a beacon in the dark as a touching piece of a once-misguided culture and how despite that wrong-headed self-hatred, some were able to find peace, love and understanding and looked great while doing it.
Written by: Jeff M.
"Remember God's bounty in the year. String the pearls of His favor. Hide the dark parts, except so far as they are breaking out in light! Give this one day to thanks, to joy, to gratitude!"
"Your silent tents of green