Wednesday, 29 June 2011

How to be a Woman

I took this book, How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran, on holiday last week. (Thank you to the Beyond Chocolater who emailed me about it. You said you thought it might be up my street and you were so right!). Moran in funny and intelligent. So funny that I couldn't stop myself from laughing out loud... on the plane, by the pool, at the beach...

All the way through I just found myself thinking "yes, yes, YES". Whether she was talking about periods or handbags, sex or food, I am with her all the way.

I love what she says about overeating:

"Overeating is the addiction of choice for carers and thats why its come to be regarded as the lowest ranking of all the addictions. Its a way of fucking yourself up whilst still remaining fully functional, because you have to. Fat people are not indulging in the 'luxury' of their addiction making themselves useless,chaotic or a burden. Instead they are slowly self destructing in a way that doesn't inconvenience anyone. And thats why its so often a woman's addiction of choice. All the quietly eating mums. All the kit kats in office drawers. All the unhappy moments late at night caught only in the fridge light."

" I sometimes wonder if the only way we'll ever get round to properly considering overeating is if it takes on the same perverse, rock and roll, cool of other addictions. Perhaps its time for women to stop being so secretive about their vices and start treating them like all other addicts treat their habits instead. Coming into the office looking raddled, sighing " Man, I was on the shepherds pie last night like you wouldn't believe. I had, like, MASH in my EYEBROWS by 10pm. I was a total mince rush!".....

Because,at the moment I cant help but notice that in a society obsessed with fat- so eager in the appellation, so vocal in its disapproval-the only people who aren't talking about it are the only people whose business it really is."

This fits in with what we started on Facebook with the Wall of Shame. We know that many women don't like the 'shame' bit in the title of the page - the idea is to dump the shame on the page and leave it there - it doesn't belong to us. We don't have to feel bad about ourselves for overeating - and I love how Moran uses humour to dispel the shame. Works a treat. The key is to keep talking about it. To stop hiding and feeling ashamed about something that virtually every woman I know does and most women do a lot! Let's make it our business to talk about it and to stop feeling ashamed.

I have always thought of myself as a Feminist but have sometimes kept it a bit quiet or felt a bit embarrassed saying it out loud. The image I had of feminists didn't quite fit with the way I see myself. Having read this book I can say "I AM A FEMINIST" without apology or qualification. In fact I want to say it. I want everyone to know. Especially my daughter.

Have you read it?

I'd love to know what you think of it.


  1. I'm recovering from an eating disorder, and starting to acknowledge the role of politics and gender inequality in the disease. Before I read this book, I wouldn't have gone so far as to call myself a feminist, but it's been a real eye opener. I loved it.


  2. I shall be ordering this book from my library and agree totally with the content of this blog entry.

  3. I have read and re read this book and think it should be required reading for all women.
    What she says about the amount of time and energy we waste and money we spend worrying about how we look is so spot on. She exposes it as absolute madness in a very very humorous and relatable to way. Here is a random extract, would like to quote the whole book really...

    "Giving the word 'fat' such power is, of course, no good at all. Just as I have previously urged you to stand on a chair and shout "I AM A STRIDENT FEMINIST, so I now urge you to stand on a chair and say the word "FAT" 'FAT FAT FAT FAT FAT FAT FAT FAT'.
    Say it until you lose the nervousness around it, say it until it seems normal-like the word 'tray'- and eventually it becomes meaningless. Point at things and call them 'fat'. 'That tile is fat' 'the wall is fat' 'I believe Jesus is fat'. The heat needs to be drained out of the word fat, like fever from a child. We need to be able to stare, clearly and calmly, right into the middle of fat and talk about what it is, what it means and why its become the big topic for the western woman in the 21st century. FAT FAT FAT.

    ...... After a lifetime of consideration, I believe I have finally nailed a sensible definition of what a good, advisable, 'normal' weight is. What is 'fat' and 'not fat'. And it is;
    'Human Shaped'
    If you look recognisably, straightforwardly human- the kind of reasonable figure an ten year old would draw, if asked to sketch a person in under a minute- then you are fine."

    Brilliant hey?

  4. That's an excellent definition, Denise! I love it and will remember it.

  5. Karen, Sheffield2 July 2011 at 09:59

    I bought this book the other day and it is so good I hardly want it to end. Easily the best book I've read this year. Can't recommend it enough. I've not got the bit you've quoted but I just drank those words in.
    Wonderful book, she's a wonderful journalist.

  6. @ Denise, I understand what you said about losing the shame and the power of the word 'fat' - my objection is one of your examples when you said its okay to say 'Jesus is fat' - why do you have to drag religion into this - muslims would certainly not condone it if you said that about Mohammed and likewise, as a Christian, I am saying please stop disrespecting the son of God, Jesus Christ.
    thank you.

  7. @Rebecca - is your post for real? If it is, I am very puzzled as I did not get the impression at all that Denise was 'dragging religion into' anything or 'disrespecting' any cultural icon. I think for her to be doing that, you would have to assume she sees being 'fat' as demeaning - and, as far as I can gather, she is saying the exact opposite.

  8. I'm a man and I'm a feminist. I think the best people in the world are women--my wife and my sister are the best humans I know. (my sister's currently working with Brad Pitt--producing). Sorry, I couldn't help myself, I love my sister. Anyway, I couldn't agree with Moran and you more. I lost my modeling career due to BED (and the coresponding weight gain)and it was looked at as a choice.

    I love your theme--stop yo-yo dieting. Thanks.

  9. Love the quote - I will be adding this to my reading list. She's spot on that people need to speak out. Over eating thrives in a cloud of secrecy and shame. When you eat in the open, in front of everyone, you are showing the world that your world doesn't begin and end with what's on your plate.

    It used to for me, and all the berating of myself and beating myself up had no effect at all. These days I'm a "normal" eater and I got there slowly, by being kind to myself every day. Yes I am fat but I've been the same size for 2 years now, and I quit smoking. All because I decided to stop fighting my body, i admitted I was a binge eater and I got help.

    She's so right - stop hiding, stop the shame and maybe we can start to dismantle this. If you're reading this and feel ashamed about overeating, take away these words:
    You are NOT alone. xxx


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