I love books, which is why I was so attracted to work in publishing when I left university, and one of my favourite ever memories was the first time I walked through the warehouse at Penguin, seeing row upon row of stacks of shiny new books. The colours of the covers, the potential enjoyment, I was in heaven.
This has led me to buy pretty much every image book out there, one of the most recent purchases was the new Charla Krupp, How To Never Look Fat Again.
What I liked – there are lots of useful and practical ‘rules’ to follow for each body part that many women wish to conceal. It’s easy to read and there are some good before and after pictures that show the difference. She pictures High Fat vs No Fat clothing options which give you a quick and easy guide to flattering each body part.
Krupp has chapters on figuring out if it’s just your clothes making you look fat and then moves onto various body parts: big bust, wide face (who knew that was a problem?), arm flap (I kid you not), muffin top and back fat, buddah belly, wide hips and thighs, big booty (considered a plus by many), heavy calves, wide feet & ankles, thick neck and broad shoulders. Then moves onto what to wear to never look ifat in summer, winter, working out and evening wear.
What I didn’t like – the language – open the front cover to reveal a litany of negativity: moon face, fire-hydrant neck, claw foot, hulky legs, chipmunk cheeks, saggy boobs, back boobs, melon calves, arm dangle, thunder thighs, grandma flab ….. it goes on and on and on.
The book is arranged into chapters each focusing on a body part. At the start of each is a list of possible negative terms to use for that body part. I was horrified to find that I was learning new ways to mentally abuse my body and tell it how terrible it is and that someone there is something more wrong with me than I thought! There was no positive reinforcement of how beautiful every woman’s body is, just that view that you are flawed and it must be fixed and hidden.
If you are sensitive, instead opt to get Gok Wan’s How to Look Good Naked (he’s the English presenter of the show). Wouldn’t you rather be called a Bellyssimo Babe than a Buddah Belly?
One of the things I’ve become very aware of as an image consultant is being careful with the language I use about bodies and body parts. NLP practitioners will all agree that negative language is very damaging and should be avoided.
So to sum up, lots of great ideas Charla, but a pity about the execution. Can we please stop attacking women’s bodies just to make a buck?