To start, I apologise if this review is a bit shorter than usual. I read Lindy West’s Shrill quite a while ago, and so some of the details are a bit fuzzy in my memory. Why do I never learn to write my reviews straight after reading the book?!
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.
Reading Shrill is another step in my journey to body positivity. This is a thing that has really been in the forefront of my mind recently, and so I thought I would finally pick up the copy that has been lying around my house since January (!). And honestly, I loved it. I loved how loud and proud Lindy West is. Her voice definitely won’t be for everyone, but for me that style of writing worked so well in what she was trying to achieve.
She was also hilarious. I do sometimes find feminist books a bit difficult to read if they are totally doom and gloom. And I understand that sometimes it is very difficult to see positives. Upsetting material is important – there’s no point hiding from it. But this was much easier to read because she takes topics such as abortions and gives them her own personality and humour.
What I found the most fascinating in the book was the specific section about trolls. In particular, West meets a troll who had previously set up a Twitter account pretending to be her recently-deceased father. The troll then decided to Tweet horrible messages to West, saying things like ‘I’ve always been disappointed in you’. I thought it was tremendously brave of her to go up to this troll and ask why he did this, and whether he really did mean her such emotional trauma. Seriously, I would recommend the book just for this chapter alone.
I will definitely be picking up any other books that West has to offer. (And preferably another one that is not involved with Dan Savage, who I have problems with.) I’ve been trying to explain body positivity to a lot of people in my life recently, and now, I’m going to direct them to this book.