Publication Date: 17 May 2016
“Coming of age in a culture that demands women be as small, quiet, and compliant as possible–like a porcelain dove that will also have sex with you–writer and humorist Lindy West quickly discovered that she was anything but.
From a painfully shy childhood in which she tried, unsuccessfully, to hide her big body and even bigger opinions; to her public war with stand-up comedians over rape jokes; to her struggle to convince herself, and then the world, that fat people have value; to her accidental activism and never-ending battle royale with Internet trolls, Lindy narrates her life with a blend of humor and pathos that manages to make a trip to the abortion clinic funny and wring tears out of a story about diarrhea.
With inimitable good humor, vulnerability, and boundless charm, Lindy boldly shares how to survive in a world where not all stories are created equal and not all bodies are treated with equal respect, and how to weather hatred, loneliness, harassment, and loss, and walk away laughing. Shrill provocatively dissects what it means to become self-aware the hard way, to go from wanting to be silent and invisible to earning a living defending the silenced in all caps.”
My Thoughts: Not knowing much about Lindy West until her memoir exploded on the book world, I had no idea what to expect when starting Shrill. I did know she was a feminist. I knew she had to close out her Twitter account because she had so many people trolling her. I also knew that friends kept recommending it as a must-read memoir. So I took their advice, and I am glad I did.
It is difficult to imagine anyone not finding Ms. West’s history compelling. She finds humor in the most painful of stories, but she does not use it to deflect her pain. Instead, she allows readers to see her pain and uses humor to lessen the blow as well as show her recovery from it. She uses that vulnerability to show others that we as women can survive. Not only that but that we should survive because when we do we win. Her ultimate message is that the bullies win when we stay quiet, when we submit to their expectations of us, when we fail to speak. When we find our voice, we win because we get them talking and talking is learning. It is a powerful message, and one that could not be more timely.
This message does come with a price, and Ms. West has most definitely paid that price. She has experienced pretty much all of the crap this shitty society of ours can throw at her. She had to learn to survive in a world that continues to attempt to shame her for her body size. She had to deal with those who look down their noses at her decision to have an abortion. She has had to fight for recognition in her relationship, in her work, and for her beliefs. She had to learn to shrug off the trolls. The fact that she doesn’t hide who she is, what she believes, or who she supports only serves to rally her opponents, and she had to learn not to care. The fact that she is able to explain all of this with grace is a testament to her inner strength.
I may not have known much about Ms. West when I started the audiobook, but now I do. Ms. West is a remarkable woman who is beautiful, intelligent, funny, and generous. She is a woman who wants to spare others her pain and who fights for those who cannot. She is a woman to watch and a woman to emulate. We could all use more Lindy Wests in our lives.