Virgie Tovar is a fat, feminist force to be reckoned with. One of the nation’s leading experts on fatphobia and body image, Tovar holds a Master’s degree in sexuality studies with a focus on the intersections of body size, race and gender that. Tovar brings her extensive knowledge of these topics to educational programs and lectures (including Babecamp, a four-week online course designed to help women break up with diet culture, and her Tedx Talk “Lose Hate Not Weight”), hashtag campaigns (#LoseHateNotWeight), as well as her writing. In addition to penning a weekly column for Ravishly, Tovar edited the 2012 Seal Press anthology Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion and on August 14, Feminist Press will release her non-fiction essay collection, You Have the Right to Remain Fat.
You Have the Right to Remain Fat is a manifesto for the fat revolution. Combining personal anecdotes with extensive research to back her argument, Tovar elegantly dismantles the mythos surrounding diet culture and explains how fatphobia is harmful to everyone in a society, not just fat people (though we obviously experience the virulent hatred of this stigma differently). Tovar is candid about her own years lost to restrictive eating and the obsessive desire to lose weight, as well as her desire to get back to a place where she is unencumbered by and unashamed of her body.
From the first line of her introduction, Tovar drags the reader in and refuses to let go. “My body used to belong to me,” she writes, then goes onto explain how once, when she was a child, she loved the jiggle of her body. Then, that changed, because her peers at school made it clear to her that being fat made her undesirable at best and morally depraved at worst.
“All the freedom and wonder I felt became supplanted by a sharp sense that I had failed at something big. And it was my job to fix it—to fix me. Rather than learning to trust my instincts and value myself, I learned that the size of my body was the only thing that mattered about me.”
Tovar’s candor packs a punch. As a fat woman reading You Have the Right to Remain Fat, I felt equal parts enraged, empowered, and supported by her words. Tovar’s knowledge of diet culture and fatphobia is extensive, and she puts it on full display in this book without being unapproachable or pedantic. Not only is this essay collection well-written and well-paced, it’s also incredibly informational without relying on academic knowledge or experience to understand the heart of her argument(s).
In fact, reading this collection is a lot like having a conversation with one of your smartest friends. Actress Joy Nash (Dietland) said so in her blurb for the book, and after reading it, I totally understand why. I would love to take Virgie Tovar out for drinks to discuss fat acceptance. It would be one of the most invigorating conversations of my life.
The crux of Tovar’s argument in You Have the Right to Remain Fat is simple, and for those who are in the initial stages of trying to leave behind diet culture, it will likely piss them off. That’s good; getting angry at this nebulous system of oppression is an important first step toward dismantling it.
Western diet culture is a capitalist phenomenon that is rooted firmly in the misogynistic need to control people’s bodies — particularly women’s.. It’s an obsession that rebrands itself every few years in order to keep with linguistic trends around the topics of health, fitness, and quality of life, and it absolutely does not care about you. Diet culture wants you to spend money on products that don’t work and plans that make you feel undisciplined; it wants to undermine you so that all of your assets seem lesser when you realize that no matter what you do, you can’t lose weight.
Tovar explains her own journey through this fraught system and, without telling readers what they must or mustn’t do, makes a compelling argument for why diet culture should be torn down and its roots excavated from society. You Have the Right to Remain Fat is one of the best books I’ve read this year, and I recommend it to everyone who holds any interest in fighting for marginalized groups.
Fatventure Mag is partnering with Feminist Press to give away two (2) completed copies of You Have the Right to Remain Fat!
Here’s how to enter:
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Want to win a copy of @virgietovar's YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN FAT? 😍📖🎉
— Fatventure Mag ⛺️ (@FatventureMag) August 9, 2018
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Giveaway ends Monday, August 13, at 11:59 p.m. ET! Good luck!