April 10, 2008
Skinny Bitch Alternatives
This post was written by Jaime, who writes the very entertaining blog Surplus. And you know what? She's not a big fan of the book Skinny Bitch. She's got some WAY better ideas for you.
Skinny Bitch bills itself as "A No-Nonsense, Tough-Love Guide for Savvy Girls Who Want to Stop Eating Crap and Start Looking Fabulous," which I guess it is, or is supposed to be, but what got me to read it (aside from my savviness, and desire to look fabulous) was the fact that beneath this chick-lit-diet-book facade was a call to veganism! Scandalous, I know. Vegans aren't chic! Vegans wear sandals and hemp sweaters! Look at the black-clad chick on this cover - is she a vegan? She doesn't look like a dirty hippie! Although this seemed sneaky (why not "A No-Nonsense, Tough-Love Guide for Savvy Girls Who Want to Be Vegans"?) I was, I admit, intrigued.
I'm not a vegan, but lactose-intolerant vegetarian is very close, and I've found some great food ideas from the vegan realm. And in the last couple of years, Skinny Bitch has been *everywhere*. By "everywhere" I mean I read about it on the internet and saw lots of people reading it on the subway. It probably was on TV, too. (Oprah? Anyone know?) But it was big, and I was curious.
Are you curious, too? Even if you're not a vegetarian, are you interested to hear why some people think veganism is the way to go? Wonder if you might find some wisdom within these pages to apply to your own health-seeking life? And maybe in a hip, entertaining package? Or maybe you're a savvy girl interested in a no-nonsense guide to looking fabulous - you don't care about veganism, but this book's promises sound great. Thinking you might have a read?
STOP. ABORT. DO NOT PASS GO.
Are you ready for a rant? I have one. But all that negativity is probably bad for my pores. So let's look at this from a positive angle.
Here are some things you could read instead of Skinny Bitch if you wanted a well-written, well-organized, well-researched, readable, intelligent, enjoyable presentation of the same arguments:
On veganism: Fast Food Nation. Doesn't actually advocate veganism, but is a much better version of the chapter in SB on the evils of meat production. You know, it really nails that apparently elusive combination of well-researched and written-with-a-sense-of-narrative-or-cohesion. Or we could just fill three pages with a list of quotes from slaughterhouse workers and call it a day.
On a healthy diet: Mark's Daily Apple. This is a ridiculously thorough health/diet/nutrition/exercise blog. Some of the ideas seem fringe at first, but they're backed up by solid science, come from totally sane people, and can still be applied to your life. And unlike some other books that I might be blogging about having really disliked when I read them this weekend, there are actually fantastic guidelines for healthy eating, rather than an a haphazard aggregation of vague directives.
On badass girl empowerment: The Bad Girl's Guide to Getting What You Want. If I made a modest effort to obscure the cover of Skinny Bitch when I read it in public, I can't imagine that I'm admitting to having read this book at all. Granted, I did find it, literally, on the floor of an auditorium. So it's not like I bought it or anything. But then I read it, and kinda loved it. It's more daring than SB, less cheesy, more empowering, less gratuitously cursey. (And I like to curse a lot. But the tone of Skinny Bitch turned me off - maybe because it was coupled with poor writing and shoddy health advice? Hm.) Sure, The Bad Girl's Guide is straight-up chickpowerment, an inherently cheesy genre - also a genre I sort of just made up? - but it's smart, funny, awesome chickpowerment. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Just don't tell anyone, okay?
On the science of diet: Good Calories, Bad Calories; Mark's Daily Apple. Yes, Good Calories, Bad Calories isn't 100% perfect. Sometimes Gary Taubes gets a little selective with which studies he discusses. But it's SCIENCE, something hugely lacking from Skinny Bitch. I refuse to accept health advice without any hint of backing it up or explaining why. So while GC,BC was imperfect, I was left pining for its talk of molecules and cells. And, y'know, research and evidence. Whatever.
On exercise: Stumptuous. Not that Skinny Bitch actually devotes more than a few sentences, total, to this topic. But it maybe should've. I swear by this website. "Strong women are cool! Every straight boy should want one!" The fact that I actually *like* going to the gym, the fact that I have any muscles in my arms (or anywhere else), the fact that I can pick up heavy things that two years ago I'd have attempted to move by sheer telekinetic ability or by staring them down - all thanks to this website. (There's also a smart, sane, thorough section on food.)
I'm all for a cruelty-free diet. I'm all for putting minimal crap into my body. I like health-food, and I like being told that Chix Rawk. I just also like books that are intelligently and coherently written. And don't suck.