i don’t feel represented: fat representation in books

TW: discussion of weight loss, body image issues, mention of eating disorder

Today I’m going to talk about an issue I don’t discuss on this blog a lot because it’s very difficult for me in my daily life, and that’s fat representation in books.

Something you may not know about me because I don’t post full body selfies is that I am overweight. I have struggled with my weight since my sophomore year of college, but have been having an extra hard time with it the past few years. I have cycled through many diets, seen a nutritionist, and tried to change my habits time and time again. I have dealt with body shaming from people around me as well as eating disorders, and have an extremely fraught relationship with my body when it comes to weight.

This is why fat representation of books is important to me. Every time I see a book come out, especially YA, with a fat protagonist, it immediately goes on my TBR. I am eager to see nuanced stories of weight issues and representation of a variety of body types.

I’m going to begin by saying that I can count the number of books I’ve read with actual fat rep where the fat person isn’t vilified or negatively stereotyped on less than two hands. In probably a third of those, the fat character still tries to lose weight and it’s framed as healthy weight loss and as a positive thing for the character. I have read very few books where weight loss is still not the end goal for a fat character and they still have a genuinely happy life while being fat.

Fat representation in books is not very nuanced. I’ve noticed that fat characters tend to be either a) vilified and shamed and used as a cautionary tale or b) body positive with no doubts about themselves. When fat characters are portrayed positively, it’s usually after they’ve gone through a self-transformation and chosen to focus on “self love and self acceptance” and “embrace their body and themselves.” Sure, they often get hate either from online anyonymous haters or in person from family, but they are usually portrayed as so confident in themselves that it doesn’t hurt as much as it used to and doesn’t make them doubt themselves or completely fall off the acceptance wagon.

I think portraying body positivity in books is great and important, but the journey towards body positivity is not a straight line or as simple as deciding to accept yourself. Body positivity isn’t something that happens all the time; it’s something that fat people strive for every day and sometimes we don’t get there. Even when you think you are body positive, you can still be tempted by diets and the promise of feeling “normal,” whatever that means, and negatively influenced by social and social media messaging about bodies. Body positive people aren’t immune to doubts about themselves and their bodies, and that’s why I don’t feel seen in a most body positive books because body positivity is a daily struggle.

Basically, I’d really like to see more books about the journey to become body positive. Though seeing body positive characters is great, personally I just wish that we could see how those body positive characters arrived at self acceptance and body positivity, as opposed to having it glossed over. Body positivity isn’t and doesn’t have to be all or nothing in order to be valid, and I want to see more books with fat characters that portray an array of our experiences.

There is no one fat experience, and fat experience is more than only being the villain or idiot or only being body positive. I just hope that soon, publishing and the world in general are ready for portrayals of fat people’s lives that are more nuanced and fully exploratory of our experiences.

revisiting: things I want to do

A few weeks ago, I included a past post discussing things I want to do in the future in a list of posts to read to get to know me. I wrote this post when I was in a very dark emotional place, and since I’ve improved in my mental health so drastically over the past few months, I was really interested to read it and see which things I’ve done or have taken steps to do. So today, I am going to revisit that post and check on my progress and take stock of what I’m doing to reach those goals:

  • Get a job I’m passionate about.  I am definitely working toward this. Things at the library have been a lot better for me lately, and I think they will continue to improve with my confidence. I’m also taking steps to get more publishing experience so hopefully someday I can get a part time or remote job in the publishing industry.
  • Marry my bae. Not yet, but eventually.
  • Move to a bigger place. We are in the last year of living at our current place and have started looking at two bedroom places, which will be much easier to afford now that I’m making slightly more and my partner is going to have a full time job soon.
  • Work on my grimoire more. I have not done this and I don’t know why?
  • Get a new car. I did this! I got a new car in December and I love it!
  • Learn ukulele. I have not done this, despite my mother kindly gifting me a ukulele.
  • Write a book. Lol. I have definitely not done this nor taken any steps to do so.
  • Write poetry. Lol. See above.
  • Rescue all the cats. Can’t really do this until I have a big house to store all the kitties.
  • Reach 1,000 blog followers. I am definitely getting there! I’m now at over 650 followers, which is the most I’ve ever had on a book blog, and I’m really proud of myself and grateful for the friendships I’ve made!
  • Change my name and pronouns. I DID THIS. I am now out at work and am looking into changing my name legally.
  • Experiment with YouTube. I have done this a bit. It hasn’t gone anywhere so far, but who knows.
  • Feel more okay than not. VERY happy to report I have done this! I feel so much better than when I first drafted this post, and have made progress in leaps and bounds. I am really thankful that I have such good health insurance and work with professionals who were able to get me the help I needed. This was my ultimate goal, and I am so happy that I feel so much better.

reconnecting with witchcraft

In my goals post for September, I wrote briefly about feeling disconnected from witchcraft since the start of the pandemic, and today I want to talk a little more about that and how I’m planning to try reconnecting to witchcraft in the upcoming month.

Before the pandemic, I did something witchy almost every day. I browsed witchblrs a lot, and also drew a daily tarot card to tell me what to expect for the day and carried a crystal or two for protection and positivity. Since the pandemic started, I have really lost touch with what I love about witchcraft and have lost a lot of the magic I had been putting into my life with these small daily rituals. I’m back at work now, but since the library is doing sidewalk service things are very different and my past daily rituals feel somewhat pointless.

I had also been interested in researching more about deities, specifically Hellenic deities, prior to the pandemic. I am still very much finding what my religious beliefs might be, but I have always felt a strong connection to stories of the Greek gods, and they play an important role in the witchcraft practice for many pagans. When everything happened, my research kind of lost steam, and now I’m finding it hard to know if I can even still call myself a witch, which makes me very sad, because I’ve felt connected to witchcraft for a long time.

So, for today’s post, I want to share some of my ideas and suggestions I’ve gotten from others on ways to reconnect to witchcraft while the pandemic is still happening:

  • Cleanse my tarot and oracle decks. Whenever I planned activities for a sabbat, I always used to promise myself to do a full cleanse of my various tarot decks. I have learned that when the deck is giving odd or hostile readings, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with the deck, but with my energy when I use the deck and I have honestly found that to be true. My energy lately is definitely off, so I want to treat my decks with care and give them my full attention and reconnect with them.
  • Start a new grimoire. I’ve been struggling with what kind of notebook to use for a grimoire for a while, and also my cats destroyed one of them, so that probably indicates that was not for me. I have saved so many tips and witchcraft posts that I want to add information from into my notebooks, so I really need to get around to choosing a new grimoire.
  • Weekly oracle card draw. Someone suggested using oracle cards, which are different from tarot cards, as a way to ask “what should I pay attention to.” Since oracle decks are more “general” in nature than tarot decks at times, I think using my Spirit Cats oracle deck for a weekly card drawing makes sense.
  • Research correspondences for items I already own. When I first became a witch, I felt overwhelmed by all the spells and spell jars that had loads of ingredients I didn’t have easily available. However, even “common” herbs that you use in the kitchen can be used in spells based on their corresponding meaning. I also want to research color correspondences more because it’s easy to find an item or colored paper to use in spells as well.
  • Do more home-related magic. I’ve also gotten the suggestion of putting protective wards around the home as an easy witchy thing to incorporate into your life (along with, of course, locking doors and drawing blinds). When I first started getting into witchcraft, I was fascinated by cottage or kitchen witches because their magic revolves around home and food, which are easy and subtle ways to use magic in your every day life.
  • Add witchy events to my planner. I always manage to forget when sabbats and other events from the Wheel of the Year are taking place and never know when astrological events like Mercury retrograde are happening or when the moon is in what phase, so I think using my Happy Planner to mark those events would be helpful.
  • Learn about sigils. I’ve always been fascinated by sigils, which are kind of like written spells based on a word or phrase that is then taken apart and recreated into a special sign. Sigils are really useful because you can use them easily and on the go even if you don’t have something to write with by just tracing the shape.

Writing this list has actually been super helpful since now I have a good handle on a bunch of things I can do this month to reach my goal of reconnecting with my practice. I think the main thing I want to impress upon myself is that witchcraft is adaptable, and it is what you make of it no matter what is going on in the world. After writing this post, I’m really looking forward to getting back into witchcraft and hope I’ll find my witchy way again.

september goals

Another month, another goals post. Let’s start by recapping my August goals:

august goals

  • Read 5 novels. XX I read 4 books, but I liked them all so I count this as a win.
  • Read 2 Book of the Month books. XX I think I’m actually kind of falling out of love with BOTM. I’ve only read a couple of the books I’ve bought from it, and am in the middle of 3 others I’m debating DNFing because they’re just not for me.
  • Participate in ARC August. X! I read ARCs, but completely forgot about participating in ARC August.
  • Don’t spend money on anything non-essential. X! This was another month where I overspent but can’t remember what I spent money on so did not do.
  • Eat out less. XX lolololol let’s not even talk about this
  • Drink more water. XX ….or this…
  • Stay up past 10 at least one night. !!!! YAY! This one I did do, and honestly, it really improved my overall mood and schedule. Will definitely do again.

september goals

  • Read 4-5 September releases. Looking at my Goodreads TBR list was a BAD idea because I am so behind on eARCs, as per usual, but this year seems extra bad. I haven’t been reading as much because of pandemic feelings, but I am v ashamed of myself. However, I hope to get back on track by making a TBR, putting it in my planner, and sticking with it.
  • Drink less Diet Coke. I have made this goal so many times and not succeeded, so we will see how this goes.
  • Try to reconnect with witchcraft. I have felt very disconnected from witchcraft since the pandemic started and haven’t really been practicing or researching at all.
  • Celebrate Mabon. Mabon is an autumnal celebration in mid-September for witches and pagans, and since I actually have it off, I want to use the day to work on my grimoire for once, watch witchy shows and movies, and generally reconnect with my practice.

august 2020 \\ wrap up

August felt like it went by in a flash, which is probably the only time a month has felt like that in all of 2020 so far. Hopefully that means things are picking up and feeling normal-ish and not as scary. Maybe.

what happened

This month went really fast for some reason and I can’t figure out why, though I guess maybe it was a bit busier than normal. I was also eagerly anticipating my trip home for my birthday, which I celebrated last week. I spent a long trip with my parents, which was nice and relaxing and a good change of pace from being stuck at home half the time.

I also feel like I’ve gotten used to sidewalk service at the library, and even though things are slow, I actually kind of like doing phone service because I feel a lot more confident about it now. I also finally got approval to change my name on my email and have it announced to people at work so I don’t keep getting deadnamed in emails, so that’s good. I also was invited to work on a project creating a training on how to be more LGBT friendly toward coworkers and customers that I am both excited and nervous for.

what i read

  1. kingdom of the wicked – kerri maniscalco
  2. two dark reigns – kendare blake
  3. now that i’ve found you – kristina forest
  4. grown – tiffany jackson

I did not read much this month even though my goal was reading 5 novels. My favorite book was definitely GROWN, even though pretty much everything I read this month was really good. NOW THAT I’VE FOUND YOU was my most disappointing read because the romance really fell flat for me and there wasn’t enough of a character arc, but it was still a 3 star read for me.

blogging highlights

On this blog:

Around the blogosphere:

  • Tessi wrote about book piracy, price, and privilege
  • Arin introduced a new event, Sapphic Saturdays, that I am very pumped for
  • Mieke ranted and wrote an extremely awesome and detailed review of MIDNIGHT SUN
  • Marta announced her booktube channel!
  • Meg discussed adults reviewing YA
  • Clo celebrated her blogoversary
  • Emme took a week away from social media and talked about the results
  • Sofia announced Latinx Book Bingo
  • Kay wrote about reviewing #ownvoices books from a biracial perspective
  • Tracy recommended books based on book twitter drama
  • Cielo announced the Diverse Clan, an exciting new initiative

how was your August? what did you read? how are you all doing during these strange times?

posts to read to get to know me

Hello, friends! Since I have been getting to know a lot of new bloggers and people in the book community lately, I wanted to compile a list of posts you can read if you want to get to know me better. I feel that the posts I’ve chosen accurately capture what this blog is about and also gives you an insight to me as a person.

  • how to be a literary witch – This was one of my earliest witchy posts and one of my favorites still. I feel like I do a lot of these things on this blog, and have really taken the “literary witch” moniker to heart in my own journey with witchcraft.
  • things that happened and what i read during quarantine – I really enjoyed writing this update post about quarantine happenings, and I feel like it gives you a really good picture of the types of books I like to read and a look into some of my hobbies and some stuff about my personal life.
  • reevaluating my 2020 goals – This post clearly shows you what’s important to me, as it is a reevaluation of the goals I set for myself at the beginning of 2020. I’m also including it because goals posts are some of my favorites to write.
  • why merricat blackwood is a witch – WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE is one of my favorite books, so it only makes sense to include this analysis of why Merricat, the MC, is a witch. In the book, I feel like her witchcraft was a lot more subtle than the way they portrayed it in the movie, as a small note.
  • things i want to do – this is another personal post that I wrote while I was struggling with mental health issues. I’m happy to report I’ve done a lot of these things, and am in a much better place now. I’d actually kind of like to do a recap of this post to see how many things on it I’ve ended up getting to do.
  • swiftathon: how i did – I’m using my Swiftathon wrap up from their Lover-related readathon because if you follow me you’re going to find out ASAP that I am a MAJOR Swiftie.

I feel like these posts are a pretty good summary of me, my interests, and what you’ll find on this blog. I’m so excited to get to know my recent followers more, and I hope my blog can bring you some sunshine, joy, and good book recommendations!

august goals

Okay, here we go *takes deep breath* I am going to actually post goals for August. Goals posts are usually some of my favorite posts to write and read, but the pandemic has left me feeling like setting goals and trying to stick to my usual level of motivation about things is pointless. However, I have come to the conclusion that we are probably going to be dealing with this for a long time, so I can’t be despondent forever, and having goals really helps me focus my mind and makes me feel good when I achieve them or even just work toward them.

So, this month, we are back to doing a monthly goals post.

goals

  • Read 5 novels. I was really proud of myself for reading 9 books in July, and in August I want to devote the energy I gave the graphic novels that helped me achieve that number to written novels I need to read.
  • Read 2 Book of the Month books. I have been enjoying my subscription to BOTM, but I definitely have not read all the books I’ve gotten from it. I also got my mom a gift subscription so we can read the same book and discuss, so for this month I hope to read one of my previous BOTM books and whichever book I pick for August.
  • Participate in ARC August. I used to love participating in Read. Sleep. Repeat’s ARC August & ARC April and always knocked a lot of ARCs off my TBR. I was thrilled to see they’re still doing ARC August, so I will for sure be participating.
  • Don’t spend money on anything non-essential. I have a few big expenses coming up and want to do better at saving money, too, and I know I need to cut down on non-essential spending. This means: no hair dye, no makeup, no planner stuff, no books.
  • Eat out less. Most of my money in July went to non-essential spending and eating out, so I also want to reduce the number of times per week I order in from restaurants.
  • Drink more water. I used to be really good about staying hydrated during the day but since the pandemic hit that has also fallen to the wayside and I mostly drink non hydrating things.
  • Stay up past 10 at least one night. Okay, I know I sound old with this goal, but I have a weird anxiety thing about staying up past a certain time. Once my brain decides it’s time to go to bed, I start feeling INCREDIBLY anxious if I try to stay up. So I basically want to prove to my brain that the world will not end if I stay up past a certain hour.

Things that happened & what i read during quarantine

Today’s post is going to be something a little different. I almost did a traditional wrap up for May-June, but I decided I’d rather talk about things that happened and some highlights of what I’ve read.

  • I went home to see my parents. Actually, I saw both me and my partner’s parents over quarantine once the stay at home orders were lifted. I was really proud of myself because I drove 5 hours by myself, which is the most I’ve driven alone since I moved to where I am now. I was really happy to see my parents because I hadn’t seen them since December, and I always find it so relaxing to go home.
  • My partner’s parents got a really cute dog. Normally, I am NOT a dog person, but this is the floofiest, cutest puppy I have ever seen and he really liked me and cuddled me and I am a fan of that dog. He will grow up to be a Good Boy.
  • I read FELIX EVER AFTER. Aka, the best queer book this year. Honestly the best one I’ve read in a while. This book is about a trans boy who gets outed at school and catfishes the person who he thinks is responsible to get revenge. There are a million and a half things I loved about this book, one of the top being that Felix keeps questioning his gender identity throughout the book even though he’s been “out” as trans and has a best friend who accepts him and is so respectful about asking what his new pronouns are. It’s also the first time I’ve seen demi rep in a book. I just felt like I saw myself so much in this book and in Felix’s struggles and joys and I simply loved it.
  • My parents got me an iPad. I am in love with it. I had suddenly started thinking about getting an iPad before I went home, and then my mom offered to get me one for an early birthday gift, and it has honestly made quarantine so much more bearable.
  • I read I’LL BE THE ONE by Lyla Lee. This book, like FELIX, was one of my most anticipated books of the year. It’s about a plus size girl who goes to compete in a k-pop competition and falls in love with a semi-celebrity. I thought the fat rep in this one was really good, and so close to my own experiences being overweight. I really related to Skye at some points. I was also thrilled to see a bisexual character not end up with someone of the same gender because I feel like that’s so rare in bi representation and it’s something I look for because that’s what happened to me, and it was nice to see a bi character attracted to a boy and not feel ashamed or be shamed for it by other queer characters.
  • I contemplated starting 2 new blogs. I don’t know why this was considering I wasn’t even blogging on one blog. I think it was mainly because I was so unmotivated by blogging and have been feeling really disconnected from witchcraft because I haven’t been doing something daily to practice it like I normally do, so having a witchcraft themed blog felt kind of pointless. But, I also wanted to start a professional library-related blog that I can put on resumes, because I’m starting to worry about putting a blog with so much personal stuff on a resume.
  • Oh my god, Twitter started being really draining. I’ve thought about deleting my account there a lot, but there are some bookish friends I only talk to on Twitter, plus it’s responsible for me and my partner getting together. But it’s been a minefield lately for me with people QRT’ing transphobic stuff all over the place and abusers being outed and reminding me of painful and traumatic experiences I’ve had. It just seems like it’s something new every day and it is too much sometimes.
  • I read A SONG BELOW WATER by Bethany C. Morrow. This was pitched as a #SayHerName novel about two magical Black girls (including one siren!!) I loved all the mythos in this book and the relationship between the two found family sisters. This was such a powerful story that I think would be empowering and validating to a lot of young Black girl readers, and I’ll definitely be pestering our teen librarian to request it for our library when we’re buying materials again because it’s SO GOOD.

may goals

I wish I had a clever intro for this post, but let’s just get to how I did with my April goals and what my May goals will be for now, shall we?

 

april goals

  • Get active minutes 5x/week.    xx     Did not do this.
  • Put away my clothes after the laundry every week.      xx       Definitely did not do this.
  • Stick to a budget.         xx       Did not do this but was not over budget.
  • Participate in the OWLS Readathon!         !!          I did this!
  • Participate in BookEnding Spring.         !!             I did 3 posts for BookEnding Spring.
  • Participate in Dewey’s 24-hr Readathon.       !!           I participated for about 3 hours, but I’m counting it.

 

may goals

  • Celebrate Beltane. Over the past couple years, I haven’t celebrated any witchy spring sabbats or esbats, but since I’m home I figure I might as well. I don’t really feel a personal connection to the spring-y holidays, but after reading THREE DARK CROWNS, I think Beltane is going to be a new favorite holiday because it holds so much significance in the series.
  • Finish 5 books. I’m saying “finish” because I started a bunch mid-late April but never finished them, and I don’t want to feel like I have to finish those AND start and finish 5 others. Ideally I’d like to read a lot more than that since I’m still in isolation, but we’ll see how it goes.
  • Meet my step goal 5x/week. Before isolation, I was doing super well at meeting 10,000 steps per day, but obviously I don’t have anywhere to go now so it’s hard to meet that so I’ve lowered my goal significantly, but still often don’t meet it because I’m finding it challenging to motivate myself to do much of anything these days because of quarantine blues.
  • Limit sugar intake to 2x/week. Baking is definitely a huge comfort for me right now, but I had been making a lot of progress on cultivating healthy eating habits over the past couple months so I don’t want to totally fall off the wagon and have to start from a worse off place than when I started in January when this is all over.

what i’ve been doing while isolated: round 2

Hello, and, unfortunately, welcome to another edition of What I’ve Been Doing While Isolated. You can read round 1 of What I’ve Been Doing While Isolated here. Let’s hope this does not become a regular feature on this blog. However, I find it helpful to write about my life experiences when I’m stressed and in general and let me tell you: I am very stressed.

So here we go with more things I’ve been doing while isolated (although honestly, I could just say “not much of anything really” and be done with it).

 

  • Annoying the crap out of my boyfriend and parents. I am very fortunate to be isolated with my significant other but I have now reached the Intense Boredom stage of isolation and always want to bother him or my parents (via phone) and I think they can tell I am losing my shit. Seriously though, I would be totally bananas without my boyfriend.
  • Spending my time with very excited cats. My cat Willow is especially pumped that I am home. He has been waking me up at 3 most mornings this week to purr and ask for pets and food. I think both cats are confused about what time it is because they are not used to both their humans being home all day every day. But they are loving getting mommy cuddles and attention.
  • Casting spells. Okay, this should be “spell” singular. But I’ve been looking for magic to do while isolated with the herbs and spices and general materials I already have at home.
  • Researching paganism. Kind of casually for the most part, but I have done a bit of research on different types of paganism since being isolated because I had a dream about a deity which has never happened to me and pulled two tarot cards that seemed to represent her which is something I have never experienced.
  • Avoiding reading. I don’t know why but I’ve just been super avoiding reading since being isolated. I’ve read one good book and am in the middle of two, but for some reason I just can’t seem to motivate myself to read more even though isolation would definitely be better if I read more. I just haven’t been feeling super invested in reading for a long time now and I’m very frustrated by that because reading used to be something I loved doing and did at every spare opportunity. But now I just beat myself up because I can’t read as much or deeply as I used to be able to which has made it distinctly Not Fun.
  • A lot of laundry. I don’t?? Know why? I have so many pants?? I really don’t need to be doing this much laundry given I don’t need to go out and wear stuff to work.
  • Cooking more. This is kind of out of necessity and kind of because I have more energy to do so and kind of because it is comforting. I have now discovered more things I like to eat instead of my two things I usually make during the week as dinners and am pleased with myself. I made perfect mashed potatoes last week and was super proud of myself.
  • Journaling. I really love to use my bullet journal at the best of times and during the worst times (aka now and also probably soon) it is very helpful. I’ve been at a bit of a loss of what to use it for because I don’t have a set schedule to track or anything and a lot of stuff is up in the air, but I find the act of journaling very soothing.
  • Researching junk journaling. I don’t know how to explain junk journaling, but it’s more like art journaling and scrapbooking combined? It is definitely something I want to do when I have more access to materials and art supplies again.
  • Bleaching my hair. This seemed like a good time to try a new hair color because nobody will see me if it goes south, and I have time to bleach it properly and not damage my hair. It will be a smokey lavender color hopefully when complete. Currently it is golden.

 

Maybe, if this post continues to be a thing, I will one day have more interesting things to report. What have you all been doing while social distancing? How is everyone coping? Tell me in the comments.