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Sofie Hagen Nails It
By Ghia Vitale
If you want to learn more about being fat and happy with your body, read Sofie Hagen’s new book, Happy Fat: Taking Up Space In a World That Wants To Shrink You. In this book, Hagen tells readers all about how she came to love her fat body. She also gives advice on how you can do the same thing.
Loving your body is challenging for anyone, but it’s especially challenging for fat people. That’s why I was intrigued with this book from the moment I saw the first 2 words of the title: Happy Fat. Too often, the media portrays fat people like me as miserable. Shortly after discovering this book, I learned that a feminist comedian from Denmark named Sofie Hagen wrote this book. It only took a few YouTube videos of her performances and some light research to convince me that I needed to review this book. So I preordered it on Amazon months in advance and eagerly counted the days until its arrival. When the book finally arrived, I literally squealed with joy.
I’m happy to say this book lives up to my excitement. It has a satisfying combination of memoir and facts I can’t resist.
Hagen provides witty and hilarious commentary throughout the book. She injects her humor and personality onto every page, making it an entertaining read. However, she also talks about serious matters like eating disorders, fatphobia, the lack of fat positive representation, family issues, the anti-fat bias that’s prevalent in the medical field, and more.
I appreciate how Hagen discusses the differences between fat liberation and body positivity. Sure, the movements overlap, but the fat liberation movement came first. Let’s face it: Fat people experience discrimination and oppression. Self-love and feeling good about yourself aren’t really actionable strategies for getting equal rights. (Nonetheless, I should note that Hagen does talk about the importance of loving yourself in this book.) She also talks about the history of fat liberation. For example, I learned more about The Fat Underground, an important radical/fat feminist group in fat history, than I ever have before.
This book is full of information, facts, and statistics. Hagen includes insightful statistics and studies that make you question society’s view of fatness. For example, in 1993, two scientists named McGinnis and Foege published an article titled “Actual Causes of Death in the United States” that blamed “diet and activity patterns” as one of the primary causes of death in America. People and publications interpreted the information in this article to mean that “obesity” causes over 300,000 deaths each year. McGinnis and Foege protested this as much as possible, including once in a letter to the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine. However, no matter how much they protested, the damage was already done. Even now, people still mistakenly believe that being fat causes over 300,000 people to die each year. It’s facts and statistics like this that can cause a powerful shift in how people think about fatness.
Hagen isn’t the only voice this book includes. This book also contains her interviews with other plus size people and fat liberation advocates. Stephanie Yeboah is a fat black woman in London who’s a plus size blogger. Dina Amlund is a fat activist from Denmark. Kivan Bay (pronounced Steven Bay) is a fat trans man and queer person who embraces fat activism. Matilda Ibini is a British-Nigerian playwright/screenwriter who is also a wheelchair user. All of these interviews provide powerful insight into what it’s like to exist not only as a fat person, but also as a person who is transgender or POC with disabilities. All of the interviews are very interesting and eye-opening. I appreciate how inclusive this book is.
Sure, it’s obvious that Hagen primarily wrote this book for fat readers. However, you don’t need to be fat to enjoy this book. She addresses other audiences in this text. For example, the book has an entire chapter about how you can be a better friend to fat people. Even outside this chapter, Hagen gives thin people insight into how they can be better allies towards fat people.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I highly recommend it to fat people and thin people alike who want to become more educated about fat liberation.
Learn more about Sofie Hagen at her official website. For more updates, follow her on Twitter and Instagram. You can also like her Facebook page for further updates.
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