Oh alright, I’ll admit it. I got sucked in by the cover of Rory Freedman and Kim Barnoin’s book, Skinny Bitch: A No-Nonsense, Tough-Love Guide for Savvy Girls Who Want to Stop Eating Crap and Start Looking Fabulous (Running Press, 2005). I am not ordinarily a fan of chick-lit, much less diet plans disguised as chick-lit, but they caught me at a weak moment–I had just finished eating the entire bag of chocolate goldfish (yes, that’s right–they make chocolate goldfish now) that I “bought for Mini” in one sitting. I felt like a fat pig and was ready to hear it straight from these self-proclaimed experts on nutrition and weight loss.
What I didn’t realize is that Skinny Bitch is nothing more than vegan propaganda disguised as chick-lit disguised as a diet plan. They had me going for a while, particularly the bit where they pan the whole Atkins thing (“You are a total moron if you think the Atkins diet will make you thin” (39)) and encourage the regular ingestion of plenty of carbohydrates. I tried Atkins once and felt bloated, backed up, and just generally all around sick, so I have to agree with them there. I also stuck with the idea that maybe, perhaps I should cut down on the artificial sweeteners. I bought a jar of Stevia and a bottle of Agave nectar from Trader Joe’s and kept on reading.
But then things started to get out of hand. The Skinny Bitches had the audacity to suggest that I substitute–wait for it–fruit juice for my coffee:
Miss your caffeine jolt? Get a fresh-squeezed organic juice for an instant jumpstart. Once you are rid of your caffeine addiction, you will get totally high from fresh-squeezed juice. (16-7)
Hookay. Clearly the Skinny Bitches have been chasing the OJ dragon for too long if they think fruit juice is going to get me high. I have a 14-month old son. Give up coffee?! They say that if you don’t “need” coffee, then you don’t have to give it up. I’m sorry, do people drink coffee for any other reason? Isn’t coffee one of those things the taste of which you despise but which you learn to like because you need the effect? You know, like beer, tequila, Robitussin?
Subsequent chapters get into the problems with animal products and all of the health problems they supposedly cause. This stuff is heavily footnoted and I certainly don’t have enough of a science background to question the veracity of the Skinny Bitches ’ claims. I will just say that the Skinny Bitches appear to have done their homework, particularly on the politics of marketing artificial sweeteners and refined sugar. So I continued to indulge their cutesy sloganry and commands to “not be a pussy” and bought my sprouted bread and soy butter like a good girl.
And then I finally got around to reading Chapter 6, “You Are What You Eat.” Before I knew it, I was weeping for the stressed-out chickens whose beaks get chopped off for pecking factory farm workers and the cows who are strung up “fully conscious, struggling, screaming, and fearfully staring at the workers while they have their throats stabbed open” (66). It was shortly after this that the Skinny Bitches joined the ranks of authors whose books I have thrown against the wall and refused to finish. Congratulations, girls: as of the time of press, this is an honor you share with only William S. Burroughs and John Steinbeck, both of whom are dead.
Look, I was a vegetarian once. Hell, I even dabbled into full-on veganity for a brief period following my first exposure to the Smiths’ Meat is Murder. But as a former vegetarian/quasi-vegan, I know that the claims that the Skinny Bitches are making (i.e. don’t eat any animal products and you will be skinny, really, it’s that simple) are nothing more than unmitigated bullshit. Do these women not understand the amount of bread that I can eat? I cannot be turned loose on the pantry without some kind of limitation placed on my intake of carbohydrates–is this so difficult to understand? Am I alone in this? My fat is not the result of eating too much steak or drinking too much milk–what am I, a middle-aged man from Milwaukee? Listen, senioritas, my thighs are hecho dechips and guacamole, not arroz con pollo.
But casting the absurdity of this “diet” aside for a moment–my real outrage about this book is the fact that nowhere on the front cover or the back blurb is it mentioned that this is a PLAN FOR BECOMING A VEGAN. Did they think they would just sneak that in and we wouldn’t notice? I notice that this book claims to be a “#1 New York Times Bestseller.” You expect me to believe that this would be the case if people were informed that this is a PLAN FOR BECOMING A VEGAN? No wonder I’ve never heard of this publisher. Hi, Bitches ? It’s Anna? I’ve gained five pounds–can I have my $13.95+8.25% sales tax back, please?