Review: Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud by Anne Helen Petersen

From celebrity gossip expert and BuzzFeed culture writer Anne Helen Petersen comes an accessible, analytical look at how female celebrities are pushing boundaries of what it means to be an acceptable woman.

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud is divided into ten chapters, each examining unruly female celebrities “who occupy all different corners of the mainstream, from the literary world to Hollywood, from HBO to the tennis court. It includes several women of color, but the prevalence of straight white women serves to highlight an ugly truth: that the difference between cute, acceptable unruliness and unruliness that results in ire is often as simple as the color of a woman’s skin, whom she prefers to sleep with, and her proximity to traditional femininity.”

As you can read in the above quote, The author’s self-awareness was the first thing I noticed and immediately cherished in her writing. There’s no topic Petersen shied away from and this passion of radical honesty and transparency settled into my core. I took a lot away from it.

Though it took me a minute to settle into the frame of Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud, the essay that secured my interest most was on Broad City’s Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson. It won me over in a beat with this single line: “In their world, men are as secondary as female friends are in the traditional rom-com. ”

This is what happy feels like. Oh, and this:

“Both Abbi and Ilana are deeply weird, but within the vividly rendered world of Broad City, their actions make some sort of sense, always in relation to each other. Of course Abbi would pose as Ilana for a six-hour shift at the co-op, or Ilana would devote an entire day to caring for Abbi after oral surgery—they’re each other’s first and foremost. Which is why there are no “bottle episodes” that focus uniquely on one character or the other: not because they’re not individuals, but because they’re always in each other’s orbit.”

Unlike my first impression regarding this book, it came to provide varying perspectives and radically de-center the story from the celebrity; rather focus on the messages and ideas they represent: Serena Williams (too strong), Kim Kardashian West (too pregnant), Hillary Clinton (too shrill), Jennifer Weiner (Too loud), Melissa McCarthy (too fat), and more.

“My hope is that this book unites the enthralling, infuriating, and exhilarating conversations that swirl around these women, but also incites new and more expansive ones. ”

I most certainly enjoyed reading and learning more about these unruly women and the notions they stood for. Feminist works like Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud are something I’ll never tire of seeing either on screen or on paper.

Plus, I’d definitely recommend giving this book a go if you enjoy looking up reviews of celebrities, TV shows, and books… Because this is a comprehensive, yet in-depth pool of knowledge of history, celebrity culture, double standards, LGBTQIA+ representation, feminism and challenging the norms of femininity. And there are of course a myriad other small things scattered throughout to keep you entertained from start to finish. I would say that the only thing I wasn’t too happy about was the fact that Lena Dunham was included in this mix. Thankfully, she was the last essay in here, so I just went ahead and skipped that altogether because I simply cannot support her character.

3.5/5 stars

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Review: The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla

Bringing together 21 exciting black, Asian and minority ethnic voices emerging in Britain today, The Good Immigrant explores why immigrants come to the UK, why they stay and what it means to be ‘other’ in a country that doesn’t seem to want you, doesn’t truly accept you – however many generations you’ve been here – but still needs you for its diversity monitoring forms.

These beautiful, powerful, unapologetic essays collect twenty-one universal experiences: “feelings of anger, displacement, defensiveness, curiosity, absurdity – we look at death, class, microaggression, popular culture, access, free movement, stake in society, lingual fracas, masculinity, and more.”

As with Nasty Women, this essay collection was one I’ve been eagerly anticipating to read. And more than ever, especially in today’s political climate, is it important that these voices are being published and heard. I definitely took my time to let each and everyone of these written pieces sink in. So instead of beating around the bush, I’d like to next share some of my favorite top notch quotes from The Good Immigrant:

Namaste by Nikesh Shukla:

Cultural misappropriation and language are important key ideas discussed in this introductory essay.

“A comedian, Kumail Nanjiani, an avid gamer, once expressed his delight that the Call of Duty series finally set a level in Karachi, the city of his childhood, now one of the top ten most dangerous cities in the world. He was appalled, on playing the game, to see that all the street signs were in Arabic. Not Urdu. He talks about the effort put into making each follicle on each soldier’s head stand out, into making their boot laces bounce as they ran, the millions spent developing this game, and how at no point did anyone decide to Google the language of Pakistan.”

A Guide to Being Black by Varaidzo:

An incredible discussion on being mixed-race.

“The world saw blackness in me before it saw anything else and operated around me with blackness in mind.
There was a drama to blackness, a certain swagger and verve, an active way of experiencing and being experienced that mixedness could not accommodate, one that I was committed to embodying fully.
There was one thing I’d never considered about mixing red and yellow: a drop of yellow into red paint won’t do much to change the colour, but one drop of red into yellow and the whole pot is tainted for ever.”

“It’s a tree falling in a forest conundrum: if a white kid raps all the lyrics to ‘Gold Digger’ and there isn’t a black person around to hear it, is it still racist?”

My Name Is My Name by Chimene Suleyman:

This whip-smart written piece left me speechless in the best possible way

“It is there in the white men and women who do not understand, to the point of frustration, why we still walk with the noose of our ancestors around our necks, as we cannot comprehend how they do not carry the indignity of their ancestors tying it there.”

Forming Blackness Through a Screen by Reni Eddo-Lodge:

“To be an immigrant, good or bad, is about straddling two homes, whilst knowing you don’t really belong to either. It is about both consuming versions of blackness, digging around in history until you get confirmation that you were there, whilst creating your own for the present and the future. It is up to you to make your own version of blackness in any way you can – trying on all the different versions, altering them until they fit.”

‘You Can’t Say That! Stories Have To Be About White People!’ by Darren Chetty:

This essay from a teacher’s point of view about educating the kids in his class on seeing themselves represented in books was beyond powerful.

“If you are a teacher, try this with your class. Ask them to write down their favourite 25 children’s book characters. Then ask them to count how many of those characters are white (and look for other patterns too, such as gender and disability). If you’re not a teacher, ask any child you know. Or maybe ask the staff in a bookshop to show you the picture-books with a black boy, or a mixed-race girl or a Muslim child as the protagonist. I tried this once and received a lot of help in searching from a clearly panicked shopkeeper – but very few books.”

And I love that the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign was brought up.

Airports and Auditions by Riz Ahmed:

Having Riz Ahmed featured in here was such a pleasant surprise, especially since I was already aquatinted with his incredible way with words.

“As a minority, no sooner do you learn to polish and cherish one chip on your shoulder, it’s taken off you and swapped out for another. The jewellery of your struggles is forever on loan, like the Koh-i-Noor. You are intermittently handed this Necklace of labels to hang around your neck, neither of your choosing nor making, both constricting and decorative.
Part of the reason I became an actor was the promise that I might be able to help stretch these Necklaces, and that the teenage version of myself might breathe a little easier as a result. If the films I re-enacted as a kid could humanise mutants and aliens, maybe there was hope for us.”

I feel this in my heart.

The Wife of a Terrorist by Miss L:

Miss L discusses the importance of seeing yourself reflected in media.

“I mean, it’s supposedly fine to cast white actors in ethnic minority roles (Angelina Jolie, Emma Stone, Mickey Rooney, I could go on …) but the other way round? There’s more chance of seeing Benedict Cumberbatch in the dole queue. ”

This right here!!!

“There are such connotations linked with being Middle Eastern that you generally can’t play a role unless it has something to do with your race. Sure, I can play a doctor or a lawyer or a street cleaner, but only if I’m being forced into an arranged marriage in the background or providing a cover-up for my terrorist husband. If there’s some really daring casting then I might get to play a character that defies my father’s wishes, if that happens then maybe I get to wear a nice dress and not wear a hijab. But very rarely do I get to play a role that isn’t defined by the preconceptions made about the colour of my skin.”

What We Talk About When We Talk About Tokenism by Bim Adewunmi:

Bim Adewunmi suggests that a pre-requisite to a debate on representation is the need to expose the lie behind “universal” experience, to quote this article.

“It appears clear to me that there is a gap in what people mean when they say things like ‘we’re all one race – the human race’ and how they actually see the world. The thing that means a person cannot imagine seeing a Asian man as a superhero (you know, that set of fictional beings with special powers) is pretty much the same thing that makes a person cringe away from feeling empathy for a fictional dying black girl (Rue, played by Amandla Stenberg in The Hunger Games). It leaks into the everyday, too – if you cannot bring yourself to imagine us as real, rounded individuals with feelings equal to your own on screen, how does that affect your ability to do so when you encounter us on the street, at your workplace, in your bed, in your life?”

That last sentence speaks volumes!!!


This collection without a doubt articulated significant points that made me both see something I’d previously not noticed and emphasize things I’d felt but not said, to paraphrase Darren Chetty’s essay. However, since I got stuck about halfway through and didn’t get to read  The Good Immigrant consecutively, it made my reading experience a bit less grabbing towards the end. All in all, though, this is a book set to linger with me long after I finish the last page.  A truly revolutionary read.

5/5 stars

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Review: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

“My work is to give you what I know of my own particular path while allowing you to walk your own.”

In a series of essays, written as a letter to his son, Coates confronts the notion of race in America and how it has shaped American history, many times at the cost of black bodies and lives.

I listened to this as an audiobook and I cannot imagine having read listened it any differently. The writer’s words left a profound mark on me.

And I feel as if my own words won’t do justice to these essays, so I’m going to share some of the profound quotes and passages that left me with an array of warring emotions:

Essay I:

“But all our phrasing—race relations, racial chasm, racial justice, racial profiling, white privilege, even white supremacy—serves to obscure that racism is a visceral experience, that it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, breaks teeth. You must never look away from this. You must always remember that the sociology, the history, the economics, the graphs, the charts, the regressions all land, with great violence, upon the body.”

“It was not my expectation that anyone would ever be punished. But you were young and still believed. You stayed up till 11 P.M. that night, waiting for the announcement of an indictment, and when instead it was announced that there was none you said, “I’ve got to go,” and you went into your room, and I heard you crying.”

This made the indistinct sadness well up in me.

“Later, I would hear it in Dad’s voice—“Either I can beat him, or the police.” Maybe that saved me. Maybe it didn’t. All I know is, the violence rose from the fear like smoke from a fire, and I cannot say whether that violence, even administered in fear and love, sounded the alarm or choked us at the exit.”

“I don’t know what it means to grow up with a black president, social networks, omnipresent media, and black women everywhere in their natural hair. What I know is that when they loosed the killer of Michael Brown, you said, “I’ve got to go.” And that cut me because, for all our differing worlds, at your age my feeling was exactly the same.”

“Algebra, Biology, and English were not subjects so much as opportunities to better discipline the body, to practice writing between the lines, copying the directions legibly, memorizing theorems extracted from the world they were created to represent. All of it felt so distant to me. I remember sitting in my seventh-grade French class and not having any idea why I was there.”

“Why, precisely, was I sitting in this classroom?
The question was never answered. I was a curious boy, but the schools were not concerned with curiosity. They were concerned with compliance. I loved a few of my teachers. But I cannot say that I truly believed any of them. ”

“I devoured the books because they were the rays of light peeking out from the doorframe, and perhaps past that door there was another world, one beyond the gripping fear that undergirded the Dream.”

“The pursuit of knowing was freedom to me, the right to declare your own curiosities and follow them through all manner of books. I was made for the library, not the classroom. The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, free.”

“In my small apartment, she kissed me, and the ground opened up, swallowed me, buried me right there in that moment. How many awful poems did I write thinking of her?”

“You were born that August. I thought of the great spectrum of The Mecca—black people from Belize, black people with Jewish mothers, black people with fathers from Bangalore, black people from Toronto and Kingston, black people who spoke Russian, who spoke Spanish, who played Mongo Santamaría, who understood mathematics and sat up in bone labs, unearthing the mysteries of the enslaved. There was more out there than I had ever hoped for, and I wanted you to have it.”

“Never forget that we were enslaved in this country longer than we have been free. Never forget that for 250 years black people were born into chains—whole generations followed by more generations who knew nothing but chains.”

“You have to make your peace with the chaos, but you cannot lie. You cannot forget how much they took from us and how they transfigured our very bodies into sugar, tobacco, cotton, and gold.”

Essay II:

“The truth is that the police reflect America in all of its will and fear, and whatever we might make of this country’s criminal justice policy, it cannot be said that it was imposed by a repressive minority.”

“Now at night, I held you and a great fear, wide as all our American generations, took me. Now I personally understood my father and the old mantra—“Either I can beat him or the police.” I understood it all—the cable wires, the extension cords, the ritual switch. Black people love their children with a kind of obsession. You are all we have, and you come to us endangered. I think we would like to kill you ourselves before seeing you killed by the streets that America made. ”

“It was only after you that I understood this love, that I understood the grip of my mother’s hand. She knew that the galaxy itself could kill me, that all of me could be shattered and all of her legacy spilled upon the curb like bum wine.”

“So I feared not just the violence of this world but the rules designed to protect you from it, the rules that would have you contort your body to address the block, and contort again to be taken seriously by colleagues, and contort again so as not to give the police a reason. All my life I’d heard people tell their black boys and black girls to “be twice as good,” which is to say “accept half as much.”

“It only takes one person to make a change,” you are often told. This is also a myth. Perhaps one person can make a change, but not the kind of change that would raise your body to equality with your countrymen.”

“Our current politics tell you that should you fall victim to such an assault and lose your body, it somehow must be your fault. Trayvon Martin’s hoodie got him killed. Jordan Davis’s loud music did the same. John Crawford should never have touched the rifle on display. Kajieme Powell should have known not to be crazy. And all of them should have had fathers—even the ones who had fathers, even you. Without its own justifications, the Dream would collapse upon itself. You first learned this from Michael Brown. I first learned it from Prince Jones.”

Essay III:

“I have never asked how you became personally aware of the distance. Was it Mike Brown? I don’t think I want to know. But I know that it has happened to you already, that you have deduced that you are privileged and yet still different from other privileged children, because you are the bearer of a body more fragile than any other in this country. ”


Listening and reading Between the World and Me completely shifted my worldview. I read it this weekend and I swear, it will haunt me for weeks to come.

I also love that there were pictures scattered throughout the book.between-the-world-and-me-1-bookspoilsbetween-the-world-and-me-2-bookspoilsbetween-the-world-and-me-3-bookspoilsbetween-the-world-and-me-4-bookspoilsbetween-the-world-and-me-5-bookspoils

4.5/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Between the World and Me, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!