I recently picked up Shrill after finishing the Hulu show of the same name in a weekend. Having watched Aidy Bryant portray a version of writer Lindy West, I thought I should give her book a read. I love Bryant’s work on SNL, which is great not just because she is funny and talented, but because she is a fat woman on television. She’s also very attractive, but I digress. The book mostly tackles the intersection of difficult identities: woman, fat, loud.
Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, is not written as a narrative, but as a series of essays. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of Samantha Irby’s work. Fittingly, Irby has written some episodes of Shrill. Parts of the show are nestled in West’s memoir- Annie’s obnoxious boss is based on West’s former editor Dan Savage, of advice fame. West writes about her abortion experience, and writing an essay about her fatness. West articulates the feelings that every woman at a comedy club has felt when she hears a joke that makes her feel unsafe. When she writes about no one wanting her, feeling undesirable, unlovable, I can relate to that. Despite always being average-sized, or at times too small, I can relate to a lot of the pain West lays bare.
Shrill is an important reminder that we need to internalize: fat people are an unprotected class, a class that experiences discrimination much like minorities and women. There are a lot of ways that it is harder to be a fat person, and as a society we have made it possible to actively dehumanize them, and make it even worse.
What was truly enjoyable about the book was West’s candid honesty, her realness and her self-acceptance. Lindy West is what is really special about Shrill– so it’s a good thing she writes for the show. One thing that really got me was when she writes about representation, how seeing fat bodies makes fat bodies normal, and how important that is. West is doing some of that work, by leading a public life, and being unapologetic, and the television show does another part of that work, by casting fat actresses to play fat women. West writes attempting to evoke the empathy of people who actively hate her- and I know she hates being called “brave,” so I’ll just say, she seems pretty cool.