Book: Do I Look Fat in This? Get Over Your Body and On with your Life by Rhonda Britten
Genre: Self help
Publication date: 2006
Summary: Rhonda Britten was a life coach on the reality TV series Starting Over during the time this book was written and published. She has written several other books beginning with Fearless Living in 2001. In Do I Look Fat in This?, Britten covers the issue of body image and weight. The book is part memoir, part self-help.
Thoughts: I had this book out of the library, then took it back as being not quite what I needed for my own development and not quite what I needed in my continued thinking about body image while reading another book titled Do I Look Fat in This? (Book Review: Do I Look Fat in This? by Jessica Weiner). But then I realized that I was still thinking about two things I read in this book, so I re-requested it from the library and read the whole thing.
The first thing that struck me was this bit on page 24:
Many of us are on a quest for body perfection, while others have given it up on the surface, but still cling to the belief that if only their bodies were different, their lives would be so much better.
When I reached that point in the book I’d been thinking, “this isn’t me.” I have rarely, in fact, asked “Do I look fat in this?” or been conscious of many of the other body image issues that I’ve been reading about recently. I felt that Britten called me out with this quote. She reminded me that I gave up on the quest for body perfection long ago, but it didn’t mean I wasn’t affected by body image issues. I gave up around age 9 when it was clear that I could never compete with the pretty girls on their playing field but I could get enough positive feedback with a focus on being smart and bookish.
The second part I kept thinking about was her description of how mass market clothes are made. Fit models are used to determine the proportions — women who are a “perfect” size 8 or size 12 that all clothes in that line are made to fit. Manufacturer’s love fit models with small breasts and hips because clothes are cheaper to make if they don’t have to go around curves. Guess what happens when a curvy woman picks a pair of pants off the rack and tries them on? Nothing fits right.
That section and planning my wardrobe for the upcoming Ireland trip conspired to reveal my denial about my closet. My clothes didn’t fit. I had been putting off clothes-shopping because the last foray was disappointing. At that point, I knew I was near the end of my weight loss and went shopping with the fantasy that now that I was normal weight, clothes would fit. Ha! In fact, I had the exact same problem that I had when I was heavy. Pants that fit in the hips and thighs left a huge gap in the waist.
Armed with information from Britten and some advice about curvier brands from the ladies at 3 Fat Chicks (and assisted by my favorite sales lady at Nordstrom’s), I made another attempt a few weeks ago with much better results. I bought Not Your Daughter’s Jeans that fit in the hips and, then, had the waist taken in. And, this time, I refused to “feel fat” simply because the jeans weren’t cut to fit my body.
The exercises in this book, along with the experiences of Britten and the women she coaches in the Starting Over house, eventually lead the reader to this result on page 232:
When my motivation changed from “body perfect” to “body healthy,” something shifted inside of me. I quit chasing an illusion. I know it might sound like giving up, but in fact, this was the beginning of true freedom for me.
When lifelong health became my commitment, I began to filter all my actions, all my thoughts, all my feelings through that one intention.
Appeal: Do I Look Fat in This? by Rhonda Britten and Do I Look Fat in This? by Jessica Weiner (Book Review: Do I Look Fat in This? by Jessica Weiner) were published in the same year. I’m guessing everyone involved with both books wished they weren’t released with the same titles. Still, it does make for an interesting comparison because it’s hard to imagine two more different books on the same topic with the same title.
Rhonda Britten is more like me — older, more inclined to overeating than other eating disorders, and more interested in changing one woman at a time than the entire culture. Jessica Weiner is younger, suffered from a different eating disorder, and wants us to change ourselves and our culture by changing the way we talk about our bodies. Either or both books will support a reader who wants a healthier body image and a healthier body.
How do you cope with clothes designed for less curvy women, conflicting messages that simultaneously shove skinny fashion models and 1000-calorie fast food lunches into our concepts of what’s normal, and body image issues?