Shrill: Lindy West's amazing, laugh-aloud memoir about fatness, abortion, trolls and rape-jokes

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“. . . . . . and feminists don’t have to be nice.”


At one time I considered myself a feminist. Now I consider myself a humanist with focus on people not like myself…

Lindy West is an awful writer. I have not agreed with someone so much and hated the way they write. Her habit of over simplification and refusal to see view points not her own make her a not so great person also imo. I dislike her so much that when I happened upon this I created a new account (I left boing boing 3-4 years ago over the illogical actions of a mod). I cant imagine her book is any better than that awful crap she used to spew on jezebel; you know, the feminist site that thought it was proper to post actual video of someone being raped.

I sympathize with much of the vile crap she has had to put up. It enrages me also, because if I say she is a horrible writer, which she is, it looks like I am a sexist pig of some sort.

Wasnt she also one of those who accused xeni of not having fricken cancer?

She is not a good person, didnt work for good people, is a crappy writer, and so on. The idea that the once great and awesome boing boing in any way fawns over this crappy person… well… I did delete my account years ago for a reason I guess.

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Have you ever heard the one about glass houses and stones? You ain’t exactly boingboing’s answer to Mr. Congeniality yourself. :wink:

I’m far more critical of myself than others are… Those in glass houses should only not throw stones if they fear something. I already accept that I am not as elegant in my speech as I would desire. The additives I apply to myself are a lot harsher than those I ascribe to her.

I just cant stand her. It’s worse than we appear to hold the same over all views on a wide number of topics. She is like nails on a chalk board to read.

You seem to have missed who the response was to.


It’s cool, man, everyone gets an opinion. :slight_smile:

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I don’t know that I can’t stand her. I listened to the segment on This American Life. It’s more that I somewhat sympathize while being troubled by the message.

The thing is, I don’t know how widespread it is, but for my own personal experience, at least, obesity and depression go hand in hand. Some people turned to alcoholism, some to drugs, and others to food. I like food. Eating tasty food made me feel better. Or so I thought.

And now, in my early 40s, I’m suffering the health consequences. Doctors didn’t come up with these symptoms to shame fat people; they came up with them by studying fat people. They can show you the things that you might be suffering from, they can show you what they’re looking for in the blood tests. They can come up with helpful hints on minimizing the risks; I don’t know about other people’s doctors, but mine told me to have realistic expectations about how much weight I probably could, and should, lose.

I have two kids. They’re both still kids. I’d like to see them graduate from high school. Weddings, too, if that’s in the cards. I love bacon, but I love them more.

Plus…depression is a funny thing. None of us have a perfect perception of the world. We all carry around these emotional insecurities, biases, and prejudices life has bestowed on us. It can be worse when you have depression, or if you went through school being bullied for being different, or both. The thing is, I’ve also had the awkward conversation: no, I wasn’t laughing at you, I was happy and that was genuine encouragement. Too late, I got embarrassed, quit, and ate a bag of potato chips while I fumed. D’oh.

But oh, how I felt when I weighed 40 pounds less than I do now…that was all me, and all for me, and it felt amazing. Now? Well, the thing is…the diet I responded to was a low-carb diet. Just try living in 21st-century Midwest America and be on a low-carb diet, when you’re the only one in your household doing it. It gets tedious. That doesn’t mean the diet didn’t work.

So no; for me, at least, trying to encourage others to stick with it as I did for a time and am attempting again, isn’t about policing others’ bodies; its about encouraging others. No, you’ll probably never look like Scarlett Johannson or Chris Hemsworth. But that’s okay. And of course it’s your body, and do what you want with it. But if you’ve gone to the doctor because you’re 38, you wheeze and get faint when you try to play catch with your kids/loved ones/whoever, your ankles hurt, your knees hurt, and your doctor tells you to lose weight, that’s not fat shaming, that’s harsh reality. Yes, yes, it’s different for women. If you really want obesity to be part of your identity, that’s entirely your business. Yes, really. Just…please stop shaming people who don’t share your views, m’kay? We haven’t quite reached “anti-vaxx” levels of pseudoscience yet, but we’re getting damn close.

So while I wouldn’t mind someone encouraging me to love me for who I am, I really, really don’t need for someone to tell me I just need to embrace being fat. I really don’t. I can’t afford that. I have too much to live for.


If you are aware of any posts where I’ve insulted any participants on the forum, please point them out to me. I’m quite serious and seek to avoid that.

Now any public figures who don’t participate here - I consider them fair game.

Well, it’s like you said: they go “hand in hand”.

I think the message isn’t “pat yourself on the back for being fat”. It’s more like “being fat isn’t a reason to hate yourself”. And I think that makes sense because if being fat is linked to depression, then being sad about being fat will likely only make it harder to exercise and eat healthily.

Not to mention there’s a lot of people who are a overweight but are still pretty healthy in terms of diet and exercise – certainly someone who’s already doing everything right health-wise is allowed to feel OK about being fat? If not, that seems pretty grim to me.

You don’t think that’s a worthwhile approach to the issue?

I haven’t seen you call anyone names, but that’s not quite the same thing as actually being nice.

In this case, your joke didn’t seem to be about any public figures, so I’m not sure how it’s relevant.


The problem is when a structural public health concern ends up unintentionally allowing troll-on-the-street to deputize themselves as the enforcer of the new paradigm. Media portrayals of a population-level health concerns as an oversimplified, moralized “battle of will” certainly don’t help, but a lot of people, for whatever reason also just have their “tell somebody what to do and how to live” spot tickled by a phenomenon like the “obesity epidemic.” Perhaps the backlash swings a little far in the other direction, but I hardly think that fat people complaining about being trolled are the ones doing the truly harmful levels of “shaming”


Just to be clear, do you or do you not fit the actual dictionary definition of “feminist?”

Because if you don’t think women deserve “political, social and economic equality to men” then frankly I’m totally on board with the “sexist pig” label.


I certainly support political, social and economic equality for women.

That does not mean that I am obliged to agree with every single proposal made by anyone anywhere which purports to achieve that end.

Nor does it prevent me from observing that some people who support that cause are jerks.

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Then you fit the dictionary definition of “feminist,” and I hope you embrace the term.

I wasn’t questioning @pyster for disliking Lindy West in particular. I was questioning why someone would reject the idea of being a feminist.

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I’ve got a friend like this. Maybe 20lbs overweight. She kayaks, she’s a trapeze artist, and she’s hiked the pilgrimage trail across Spain - twice. And she’s still never going to be thin.

Meanwhile, (until I lost my thyroid) I spent 3/4 of my life underweight. The first time I hit 110 lbs I was 6 months pregnant. But I have a congenital heart defect and I often wheeze just doing yoga. Yeah, there are fat people that are unhealthy. There’s also thin people that are unhealthy, so maaaybe we should leave the decision up to their doctors.


When a larger woman attacks a thin woman for being thin, the attack is split — part of it is selfish, yes, to tear thin women down and feel better about their own marginalized bodies. That is bad. But a bigger part is attacking the system that marginalizes them. That anger at the system is justified. --Lindy West

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Yes, I do.

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If she does all these things, I would have a hard time terming her “overweight”.

Overweight <> “not thin”

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If only it were that simple.

I hate to say it, but I always have a “that happened” reaction to such stories. You went in to get your broken leg worked on, and you were told to lose weight? Maybe, but color me skeptical.

Or, here’s a gem I’ve seen more than one place

I ask the same questions of all of them:

“Do you think a person can be both fat and healthy?”

If they say no, or qualify it… up to X number of pounds… then I don’t
give them my business.

Maybe that doesn’t sound so bad. So, substitute, “Is it okay if I don’t vaccinate my kids?”, or, “Is there a link between smoking and lung cancer?” This is flat-out shopping for a doctor who’ll tell you what you want to hear. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised; despite living in a society that’s so dependent on science, we’re increasingly rejecting science when we don’t like it. See: vaccination, smoking, even evolution.

So, here’s the thing. I’ve been down this road. I’m currently back up to the weight I was back then, and was warned, again, to lose weight. And you know what? The doctor’s right. I have high blood pressure. Go down a list of things they attribute to obesity, and I’ve got it going on to a certain degree. I lost weight a few years ago, got close to a healthy weight, and I felt fantastic.

If my saying that makes you uncomfortable, that’s you, not me.

But here’s the other thing: when a component of that weight loss is a change in diet, especially if that diet involves eating differently than the rest of society, my own observation from me and people I know is that you’re sadly, frustratingly alone in the quest to eat different. Me, I ended up having to prepare and cook all my own food. My kids never got to a point where they’d eat any of it; if I was going to eat a low-carb meal, we had to basically serve two meals. And it’s so joyous, going out to eat, and seeing a dish in front of you full of things like spinach and lettuce, when everyone around you has, say, pizza with perfectly browned crust and cheese, and a bit of burnt cheese around the edge. And then there’s the people who encourage you to just eat regular food, c’mon, you’re a big guy, you need to eat! And oh my God, the portions. I stopped at a fast food place yesterday for a burger, small fries, and small drink. It was as big as the large sizes they had when I was a kid. And I see people carrying around quarts of pop and sweet tea, oh my God, yeah, that’s not genetics or the diet industry.

Guess what happened? I fell off the wagon. Much to my detriment. I don’t like having swollen ankles, or getting winded chasing my kids around, or especially wondering if that pain is indigestion or the start of a heart attack.

So yeah…okay, you’re an outlier and you know outliers. That’s great; there’s people who claim they found the cure to autism by not vaccinating their kids, too.

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