Fat Girl Finishing School by Rachel Wiley came before the poetry collection, Nothing is Okay. And I am glad that I read that one first, as Fat Girl, in several ways, was not as strong. As much as I love Wiley, the themes are consistent, therefore, you know they style after reading (or listening) a handful of poems. That is not to say they are all not amazing, they are. Wiley knows how to twist a phrase around on itself and punch you. The good thing about Fat Girl is, while a few poems would be repeated later, most of them were new to me.
I am using this as a Two Heads book as my acquaintance, Jasmine, posted one of the extra quotations Wiley uses in the book on Facebook. I recognized the book as Wiley (mostly because she mentioned it was Wiley’s book) and asked her to write a paragraph about it (see next paragraph). I have not edited except for some spelling/typo issues.
Rachel Wiley is a self-proclaimed fat, queer, feminist. This very much comes across in her book “fat girl finishing school” This is a short book of under 70 pages filled with quotes and poetry. And is certainly not for the faint of heart with its vulgar, blunt, and relatable content. Rachel talks about instances of being fat shamed, and violated both sexually and emotionally. She talks about death, food, and daily struggles. In a way that all fat people can nod their heads in relation to, and hopefully in a way that makes other people think about body positivity in a different light. From the book but actually Naomi Wolf quote “A cultural fixation on female thinness is not an obsession bout female beauty but an obsession about female obedience.” Rachel’s poems veer on the edge of making the reader uncomfortable with not only the idea that being fat is OK, but in fact it’s beautiful. That even if a woman is fat she is allowed to drink beer and eat pizza. And that she’s still allowed to complain when her body hurts. And that skinny doesn’t always equal healthy and fat doesn’t always equal unhealthy. And that overall men are jerks. And that society is definitely not on the side of the fat proud woman. Rachel writes in a way that merges eloquent and vulgar. It’s both brutally honest and beautiful
Wiley is vulgar. But I say it is in a matter of fact manner. And it is vulgar wrapped in beautiful language. Wiley sharpens and softens the blows were needed (usually sharpens, but humor is a weapon as well as the pen); speaks of biracial privileges (“passes” as white/has the privilege of saying the “n word”); being plus sized, queer, how they are ashamed and how people try and shame; screams out body positive; talks about abuse, rape, love, hope and more. Wiley slaps you and hugs you. But above all, she raises her flag and finger and shows the world who Rachel Wiley is and how she (and all of us) should be proud.
Language, sex and mature context.