In the first essay of The (Other) F Word: A Celebration of the Fat & Fierce, contributor Alex Gino talks about the messages society gives fat people: "I'm bombarded with advertisements from a diet industry that wants me to literally be less, along with media that believes my fat is a moral failing." Gino and more than 30 other writers, models, activists, artists and speakers contributed pieces to this ode to fatness and love, a provocative and enlightening collection of personal essays, prose, poetry and artwork edited by Angie Manfredi. The contributors are queer, cis, disabled, non-disabled, BIPOC (black/Indigenous/people of color), white, younger, older. Some are working to, as one writes, "move the needle of representation in media and entertainment." Others are focused on public perception, personal identity and body positivity. All share one message, though: to become our best selves, we all must rethink our ideas about beauty and worthiness. Multi-genre author Hillary Monahan talks about the exploitation of fat people in horror films who die first because, as the trope goes, "they're essentially asking for it." Fashion and lifestyle website creator Bruce Sturgell tells how he created his own community of "Big Boy" style when he couldn't find one. And writer and body image coach Jes Baker describes how she reclaimed the names she's been called over the years, sharing fun facts about hippos, whales and elephants.
Essay titles and contributor bios are almost as empowering as the pieces themselves. Readers will be buoyed by titles like "From Your Fat Future," "Does this poem make me look fat?" and "The 5 Things You Need to Start Your Very Own Rad Fat Babe Revolution (from Someone Who Knows)." An appendix of "FAT FASHION resources" rounds out this upbeat, forward-thinking compilation. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor