A candid account of one writer’s turbulent relationship with an innocent body part, reminiscent of Nora Ephron’s bestseller I Feel Bad About My Neck.
Hilde Østby is a successful author on the cusp of her forty-fifth birthday. But instead of celebrating her many accomplishments, all she can think about is how much she hates her belly—an insecurity that has persisted since she was fifteen. How did a girl from an academic home—where intellect counted more than looks—become the kind of woman who would obsess over her midsection? With courageous vulnerability, Østby tackles the male gaze, diet culture, stress, capitalism, fashion, beauty, and trauma in My Belly. By the end, she is no closer to loving her belly, but through knowledge and wonder, she finds the answer to overcoming her self-loathing in unexpected ways.
I really like Østby. She is an original non-fiction writer, as also with her books about memory and creativity. The form of The Big Belly Book is a typical contemporary narrative non-fiction book with the mix of personal, and sometimes private, confessions, a sharp look at society, scientific and historical facts. It is also filled with fun facts, like the fact that the first book on diets was published in 1558.
Østby goes to work with a great underlying seriousness in her self-examination. With her own story as frame, she looks at new research, often thinking of her own daughter who might be in danger of inheriting her mother´s demons. Throughout the book Østby is hunting for the origin of her own self-contempt.
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