Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls is a manifesto and call to arms for people of all sizes and ages. With her trademark wit, veteran blogger and advocate Jes Baker calls people everywhere to embrace a body-positive worldview, changing perceptions about weight, and making mental health a priority. Alongside notable guest essayists, Jes shares personal experiences paired with in-depth research in a way that is approachable, digestible, and empowering. Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls is an invitation to reject fat prejudice, fight body-shaming at the hands of the media, and join this life-changing movement with one step: change the world by loving your body.
About the Author
Jes Baker is a positive, progressive, and magnificently irreverent thought leader in the realm of self-love, mental health advocacy, and body image.
She is internationally recognized for her writing on her blog The Militant Baker, the “Attractive and Fat” campaign, her literary debut Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls and her dedication to shifting social paradigms into a place where all people are offered the opportunity to embrace themselves just as they are. Baker first attracted international attention with her “Attractive and Fat” campaign challenging Abercrombie and Fitch’s exclusionary tactics. Her work has drawn coverage across the world from hundreds of media outlets including CNN, The Today Show, and the BBC.
When not writing about body liberation, Jes happily spends her time working one-on-one with other kick-ass humans as a Body Image and Mental Health coach, speaking around the world, working with clothing companies to promote more plus size fashion, taking pictures in her underwear, and trying to convince her cats that they like to wear sweaters and bow ties.
A Disclaimer on Fat
So, Things No-one Will Tell Fat Girls uses the term “fat” as a descriptor throughout the book. Over the past few years, the word fat has been reclaimed by the body positive community as a neutral descriptor of size.
As those of us with larger bodies know, fat is a word that has been weaponised against us, and still carries with it a lot of negative connotations. There’s no pressure when you’re reading this book to identify with describing yourself as fat if you’re not comfortable with that term.
Throughout my review, I’ll be using the term fat to describe people with larger bodies, as this is the terminology the book uses. I also describe myself as fat, as I’ve been called fat (negatively) for most of my life, so I want to take the power back by using it as a neutral descriptor of my body. Whether you identify as curvy, plus size, queen size, or anything else, just know that I love you, and you can use any words you like to describe the body you live in.
I reaaaaaally enjoyed this book!
I finally decided to treat myself to Things No-one Will Tell Fat Girls for my birthday, and I wish I’d bought it sooner.
The book is clearly structured into chapters, each tackling a different aspect of body love and fatphobia, spaced by guest essays from other body positivity activists like Sonya Renee Taylor and Bruce Sturgell.
This book, while written in Jes’ characteristic style, feels like a community effort.
When I was reading the book, I never felt once like I was being talked down to, or being told what to do, which is one of my biggest worries when I read self-help books like these. After all, I’m reading the book because I know I need help – I don’t need to be patronised while I’m reading it.
Jes speaks to the reader as a friend, and uses anecdotes from her own life to talk about the realities of being fat in the western world. She then backs up those facts with statistics, quotes, and science. Every single thing she talks about is well researched, thought through, and has its purpose in the book.
Throughout the book, she lets you into the most vulnerable parts of her life. She talks about going through therapy and the importance of mental health care. She talks about receiving feedback from trans* communities about the language she used to use. She talks about how to advocate for your own healthcare when facing discrimination from your care provider.
The book’s tagline is “A Handbook for Unapologetic Living”, and that’s exactly what it is.
Each chapter talks about a specific issue, and how to deal with that issue. From diet culture to fatshion, mental health to activism, Jes gives the reader a practical toolkit to deal with not only their external issues – but their internal ones, too.
Fat People Exercise Too
In one particular chapter on the false equivalence between fatness and health, Jes talks about going to a dance class with a friend. This section resonated particularly heavily with me, as even when I started pole dance, I’d only ever taken up new exercises classes to lose weight.
In this section, Jes talks about how she panicked before the class because she was certain she’d fail in the class, but if she didn’t go she’d be a ‘bad fatty’. She said she felt that, as a fat woman, she had to justify doing everything because the world expected her to do nothing but lose weight.
Her friend tells her “Don’t go for the weight loss – go for the feeling”.
She then goes on to say how much she enjoyed the experience – and how freeing it felt to move without the expectation of burning calories.
One of the most powerful parts of this book was her discussion on the relationship between exercise and fat bodies, and in particular how fat people are told to exercise to lose weight – and ridiculed for exercising.
I’m a firm believer in doing whatever movement makes you feel good, which Jes talks about too. Movement can help us connect with our bodies, and exercise can feel great if you love what you’re doing and free yourself from the pressure of weight loss.
Things No-one Will Tell Fat Girls is the book every fat person needs to keep in their bedside drawer or emergency self-care kit.
Jes Baker’s book helped me through a rough patch with my body image. As much as I’ve immersed myself in the world of body positivity and fat liberation, there was still a deep part of me that was uncomfortable with my weight gain and the blooming stretch marks on my stomach.
Reading this book helped me through that period by showing me that there’s more to life than how I see my body. And, actually, I was spending a lot of emotional energy focusing on how my body looked on the outside.
This book left me feeling more secure in my body and the changes it goes through. I still have a rough time when I see my body growing. I’m still going through those negative feelings right now, and it’s hard.
Things No-one Will Tell Fat Girls is, as you might imagine, targeted more towards women, as a lot of the information talks about female standards of beauty. There are guest essays from trans*, non-binary, male, and disabled body positive activists, but these only make up a small portion of the book in the form of guest essays.
I really wanted to give this book a 5. Jes does feature a lot of guest essays from people who come from different walks of life, but I would have liked to see more representation for people who don’t live in bodies like hers.
(Hey, if you liked this post, I’d super appreciate it if you’d consider buying me a coffee. Running a blog has a lot of overheads, and it’ll help me keep the lights on and continue bringing you great content. Thanks!)