Over the weekend, I read Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin — twice.
Skinny Bitch has become a cultural phenomenon, landing itself on the US and UK Best Selling Lists. I put off reading it because of it’s "tough love" reputation and because I read that Freedman and Barnouin basically have no scientific credentials.
(Chick on the left is Freedman, a former agent for Ford Models and a "self-taught know-it-all" and the woman on the right is Barnouin, a "former model who holds a Masters of Science degree in Holistic Nutrition" from Clayton College — an online school). Just because someone is lacking a PhD doesn’t mean they are completely ignorant, but I would like to see better credentials on a diet book than that!
Warning: Skinny Bitch is NOT a diet book. Skinny Bitch is a vegan manifesto masquerading as a diet book! I knew this going in, but I think a lot of women would be very upset to realize the book sells a very strict and limited vegan approach to diet. The cover and back of the book do not even mention that vegetarianism or veganism is the primary thrust of the book.
Skinny Bitch opens with the following paragraph: "Okay. Use your head. You need to get healthy if you want to get skinny. Healthy = skinny. Unhealthy = fat. The first thing you need to do is give up your gross vices. Don’t act surprised! You cannot keep eating the same shit and expect to get skinny."
The biggest thing I liked about the book was the direct, no bullshit tone. The book is loaded with shit’s, fuck’s, and asshole’s. I have a terrible potty mouth in real life, so I didn’t find it offensive, but funny and real. And generally effective! The authors admit the title itself is just a marketing ploy, which I LOVE! 🙂
The biggest thing I did NOT like about the book was the language literally shames you into thinking Skinny Bitch-style. They use several tactics to covert you to veganism, but one of these tactics is to make you feel totally terrible and lame if you do not eat a perfect and pure diet. They write, "If you eat shit, you are shit." This is NOT very balanced. No one can be perfect ALL the time. A healthy diet (especially a cruelty-free one!) should make you feel GOOD about your choices, not bad for a minor slip up. As this Salon.com review of the book states, "the only thing this weight-loss book will help you lose is self-esteem."
So, obviously I have a love-hate relationship with the book. Here are the other things I liked about Skinny Bitch:
- Although it presents a one-sided argument for veganism, it is extremely well-researched and cited. It presents a strong moral, political, health, environmental, and biological argument for veganism.
- The book totally debunks the high protein, low carb diet. I really do think the Atkins Diet is a load of crap, and it was nice to see research on why exactly this diet sucks.
- The book explores how our government has shaped our food choices to benefit the dairy and meat industries at the expense of our health and the humane treatment of animals. There is some insanely eye-opening information in Chapter 9 that EVERYONE should read. If you’ve read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, Skinny Bitch reiterates these concepts. Basically, do NOT trust the FDA or the USDA. Seriously.
- In parts, Skinny Bitch tries to empowers you to make better food choices and eat a cleaner and healthier diet. I found myself underlining the following passages: "Love yourself enough to do whatever it takes to be the best you can be…. Just take it one meal at a time… Acknowledge that no vice item will ever make you feel happy or whole or satisfied."
- The honest portrayal of the farm factories of cows, pigs, and chicken and their ridiculously inhumane slaughter really affected me. I couldn’t even read some of the descriptions. I was FLOORED to read that the United States doesn’t even have adequate laws to protect the animals. This really, really upset me. For some reason, I can watch the PETA videos on the farm houses and experience a sort of detachment, but I found it difficult to ignore it in written form.
- There’s a great list of recommended brands and products suitable for the Skinny Bitch lifestyle.
- I walked away feeling much more educated about why people choose to become vegetarian or vegan.
There were many aspects of Skinny Bitch that I did NOT like:
- As mentioned, the tough-love tone was overbearing at times. I think this book would be a very poor choice if you are recovering from an eating disorder.
- The book demands perfection, which is impossible to obtain.
- The suggested diet in the back of the book is RIDICULOUS! I would seriously chew off my arm if I ate the suggested diet. I would be a seriously skinny bitch (emphasis on the bitch) if I followed their regime for two days. I’m guessing each day contains about 1,200 calories. No one can live on that!
All in all, I’m very glad I read Skinny Bitch. Like all diet books, there are parts of the book that I really identified with and other parts I hated. Personally, I feel everyone should read Skinny Bitch just to become more educated about vegetarianism and veganism.
Regarding how Skinny Bitch will affect me, I’m trying to eat less meat. I’ve been trying to do this anyway, so it’s not a big change. I’m not going to declare myself a "vegetarian" because I think I need more time to process the book. This will be my third attempt to go veggie (I was a chicken-only veggie for 10 years and a pure veggie for about a month when I was 23).
Have you read Skinny Bitch? What did you think?
I’ve never read it, and it’s strictly because of the title! I don’t find it offensive, I just think it sets the tone of the whole book and that’s not an approach I want to take when it comes to healthy eating. I really don’t want to be shamed into eating properly — I want my mind to be just as healthy as my body when I choose the right foods.
Thanks for reviewing, Caitlin!