Wednesday, January 2, 2008

"Skinny Bitches" - making me a little ashamed to be vegan

A few weeks ago my boss told me about a vegan cookbook called Skinny Bitch in the Kitch. The review she read and subsequently passed on to me was very short and mostly of the "Woah! These hot chicks are vegan! How crazy is that?" variety.
The title of the book bothered me a little, but I didn't think about it very much until I read an article about the authors on the NY Times website - http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/02/dining/02skin.html.

Skinny Bitch in the Kitch is a cookbook follow-up to the authors' original book, a vegan diet manifesto called (of course) Skinny Bitch, which became massively popular when Victoria Beckham was photographed carrying it. The cover of the book intimates a "chick-lit" sensibility with a line drawing of a thin woman wearing over-sized sunglasses and large hoop earrings.

On the surface I do like the idea of a vegan manifesto though, again, I struggle with the title. I was also concerned with something the author said in an interview: “You know how you feel when a tall, thin, pretty woman walks by and something inside you wants to say, ‘That skinny bitch!’?” said Ms. Barnouin, who happens to be tall, thin and pretty. “The book takes that envy and anger and gives you a new place to put it.”

So, dieting inspired directly by internalized sexism? I can't get behind that, even if it is a vegan diet.

There is a note from the authors on the Skinny Bitch website reading: "A Skinny Bitch is someone who enjoys food, eats well, and loves her body as a result. It has nothing to do with how much you weigh or what size you are! Skinny Bitches come in all beautiful shapes and sizes!", but it feels like a hasty aside, especially when the authors' former careers as models are constantely mentioned and book sellers say things like: “You look at the photo of the authors on the back, and they are both drop-dead gorgeous. If you look at the photos of authors on the crunchy granola books — maybe not so much.”

What do you all think?


For more reading:
Skinny Bitch website - http://www.skinnybitch.net/authors.html
Skinny Bitch review - http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/01/books/01skin.html?pagewanted=1&ref=dining

4 comments:

Kelsey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kelsey said...

Yikes. Being someone who has struggled with body image issues since the age of seven (like most women in our society, I'm sure), this makes me cringe a bit. I love the idea of touting conscious health and eating choices, but do they really have to label it that way? Why can't we have a vegan book without the "envy and anger" associated with the skinny bitch image?

I guess it's a catchy title, but it irks me. I don't like that it is almost advertised as an "eat this way you can be a skinny bitch, too" thing. I guess I never realized that "hot" people sell cookbooks better than the "crunchy granola" types. Personally, when I look for recipes, the sex appeal of the author is one of the last things I am concerned about.

Ms. Fincher's Finishing School for Awesome Lads and Lasses said...

Y'know the funny thing is, from what I've read about the books, the eating choices they tout aren't really all that healthy. It's basically vegan junk food, just as processed and nutritionally devoid as non-vegan junk food, which is yummy every now and then, but certainly not as a diet foundation.

Ugh. It's totally an area where I feel like the sacrifices being made (ideas around self-worth, being motivated to diet by hating other women, buying in to internalized sexism etc.) are not worth the 'gains' (promotion of a vegan diet).

Ledena said...

I give this book 2 big thumbs down. Way down! Thanks for posting this Ms. Fincher. This book reminds me of all of the gross things that happen when something is co-opted, re packaged, made devoid of any politics, and then sold back to us.