Review: Two Whole Cakes by Lesley Kinzel
Title: Two Whole Cakes: How to Stop Dieting and Learn to Love Your Body
Author: Kinzel, Lesley
Length: 164 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction, Self-Help
Publisher / Year: Feminist Press / 2012
Source: Feminist Press subscription.
Why I Read It: An issue I needed to learn more about, though I was definitely already on the love your body and no dieting bandwagon.
Date Read: 22/05/12
In this book Kinzel takes us through why we shouldn’t hate our bodies, why we should be proud of who we are, and how dieting can be dangerous for you. She talks as well about how we should recognize and love the diversity the human race always has and always will contain. A key premise, which she begins with on page 5, is that:
Your body is not a tragedy.
I think that is such a powerful and important statement. And Kinzel takes us on the often personal and important journey to get to that point. She talks about stereotypes, about fatshion (fashion for those who are fat – because why not, because anyone can be fashionable, but also discusses how hard it can be to find great clothing that fits), and about activism.
While I’m lucky to have a body that fits into many of the standard ‘beauty’ narratives that are currently seen as ‘desirable’ in our culture, the ways in which bodies are sexualized and judged based on arbitrary measures of beauty is damaging to me as well – albeit much less. Because I can’t know what it is like to look a different way in our society, this is why I try to read as widely as I can on topics like this, to listen and to learn.
Our cultural ideology of beauty-as-personal-responsibility contributes to a world in which all bodies are public property, open to criticism, compliment, or mockery, at all times. There is no line drawn between the faux perfection of models in ads and the real bodies of women going about their lives – we are all expected to strive for the impossible, no matter what it takes, and when we refuse, our subversion is punished by social censure. (page 50)
An important point that Kinzel makes again and again is that self-respect and self-esteem are not something that come with a certain look or image, they are things that you have to work for outside of a gym. Also, the human race is diverse – it always has been and always will be. We will always come in all sizes, and simply exercising is not going to make everyone a size x (whatever the desirable x happens to be at that point). Diversity is here to stay, and we all need to learn to accept that, to accept people in all sizes, and to stop with the judgements and stereotypes. Being fit and being slim are not the same thing, and we should be striving to all be healthy, not to all be slim or to lose weight.
The reality is that fat people are often supported in hating their bodies, in starving themselves, in engaging in unsafe exercise, and in seeking out weight loss by any means necessary. A thin person who does these things is considered mentally ill. A fat person who does these things is redeemed by them. (page 140)
I am always frustrated and saddened to see people posting about their new fad diets and weight loss challenges as if they need them to be attractive, and pushing them on others as well. It’s always disappointing to see how our culture affects us all and keeps us all from truly just loving ourselves and striving for health rather than anything else. Finally I feel like I have a book that I can recommend to people as a way to hopefully combat some of the self-loathing and yo-yo fad dieting. Definitely recommended to all.