30 Days of Health and Contentment: Day 24, Don’t Look Away

I know that today’s title seems a bit weird for a post on getting healthy and fit. Stick with me, and I promise I will get to the point.

You and I probably have gone through similar thought processes as we started the year with a desire to be healthy and happy.  The usual pitfalls appear: I’m too tired to exercise; I really want that doughnut; diets don’t work anyway. Why did I just eat that?

What does it mean to be healthy, fit, and happy? Does it mean the same thing for everyone?

If you see a chubby woman jogging, what crosses your mind? What do you think she is thinking and feeling?

Last year, I added to my “to read” list a book called Dietland, by Sarai Walker. The review called it a book for teen readers. It was recommended as funny and poignant, a book about what it is like to be an obese woman trying to lose weight in a city of skinnies.

I’m not certain the reviewer actually read the whole book; the story goes way beyond the life trials of an obese young woman.  There are laugh-out-loud moments, for sure, but there are also moments that will make you want to look away. It goes to the very heart of what it is to be a woman.

Don’t look away.

In the darkest corners is where we find truth, and once we find it, we can “out” it.  That’s what our heroine, Plum, shows us. Plum is a sensitive, perplexed young woman living in Brooklyn (be prepared for language that reflects her environment).

The story is so relevant to what is happening today. Women speaking out about abuse and discrimination. Speaking out about objectification and the “old boys” network, in which some women hobnob, too.

Dietland delves into sexual violation of females, and the story is not pretty. Walker describes pornography in graphic detail, and it is hard to read. I’m surprised someone thought to categorize it as a teen novel.  Read the book before giving it to your daughter.

You might be tempted to “look away” and skip this book. And that is exactly what Walker is urging us not to do. Through Plum, she tells us that, until we can reveal it in daylight and call it what it is, systemic discrimination against and abuse of women will not stop.

She doesn’t just mean obese women, either.

* * * * * *

Yesterday, I read an article about a little girl in Pakistan who had been raped and murdered. Her picture caused a stir on social media, resulting in mass demonstrations which pressured the local government to find her killer.

This may not seem extraordinary in itself, although the story is heartbreaking.

What is extraordinary, though, is that the killer is believed to have killed possibly a dozen children. Before social media took up the cause, no one had done much about it.

As the news story reported, it is traditional for a family to be “shamed” if girls are violated. This suggests that the victim is to blame. Instead of reporting in hopes of finding justice, these crimes are sometimes kept quiet to preserve family honor. The investigations go nowhere, if they are reported at all.

The local government has arrested a suspect in these murders. One wonders if such a result would have occurred without social media pressure.

Don’t look away.

* * * * * *

Dietland almost seems like a jumping off point for today’s women’s empowerment movement.  Its messages are sometimes hard to take, like the little girl’s murder. But the power of Walker’s words is undeniable.

Bringing this post full circle, what does it mean to be healthy, fit, and happy?  Dietland suggests that we take a good, long think before we decide on an answer.


A note on affiliate links: I checked out Dietland as an audio book from the public library.  I may buy a copy to keep or give as a gift.  If you are thinking about purchasing this book, you can click on the cover picture in this post.  I may receive a small commission from Amazon for your purchase. This commission does not increase your costs.

However, my affiliate status is not the driving force behind this post, it is incidental.  My opinions about this book are my own, and do not reflect those of the author, publisher, advertiser, or retailer. My only motivation in providing the link is to defray some of the costs of this blogging platform. Thank you! 


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Author: A. JoAnn

Here is where I share the beauty I find in everyday life; and the humor, too!

8 thoughts

  1. I’m looking forward to reading it! Seems like the tool of social media can be positive or negative, depending on the motivation of the user.

  2. Ha! When I read your posts, I rarely note the gender of the characters. I like that you went with characters that worked, rather than any balancing. I can’t decide if it is better to be gender blind or gender balancing. These sorts of issues are really difficult (at least, for some people).

    Your associate’s comment made me think back to something my anthropology professor once said, “When it comes to thinking, some people are like streams. They always follow the path of least resistance.”

  3. Beautiful post. I’ve been struggling with writing a post on social media myself. We just had an incident where a neighbor was highlighted in a NY times article about a neighborhood issue and some of the comments were so mean spirited. In some cases its an amazing process to allow everyone to give their input but in others it can bring out the worst. I often wonder are we better not knowing what everyone thinks . . . ok, maybe i need to start writing now. Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. Thanks, Thal! It will be worth your time. I loke the audio books cause I can listen while I walk!

  5. Well done, sister. I will read this book.

  6. On Dietland, sometimes people can read words, deep, meaningful or trivial, and toally miss a point. Or take away something else entirely. Kind of related, I lent someone the preview copy of Grey Moon yesterday. They commented that it was a clever satire, my taking the piss out of SJWs complaints of gender balancing with too many male characters in books. How this would stick it to them as so much or my readership was female.

    I told him, honestly, I just thought the booked worked well as an all female cast…

    Then I told him to piss off… To feck with that… :-/

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