Lindy West’s Shrill is cataloged in the humor section of the library and three of its five subject headings use the word “humor.” So it’s no surprise that while reading chapter 1 I scared my own dog. He looked at me sideways while West describes the role models who looked like her young self: Lady Kluck, Baloo dressed as a sexy fortune teller, and Miss Piggy to name a few.
She then spends a chapter or two talking about her early awareness that she is too big, and pondering what to “do when you’re too big, in a world where bigness is cast not only as aesthetically objectionable, but also as a moral failing.” The serious turn continues as West’s column readers learn she’s fat and use the newly available public comments section to abuse and belittle her.
Suffice it to say, West rises to the occasion, and eloquently takes on misogyny in comedy club culture, fat-shaming, and women’s reproductive rights. This book is a must-read for anyone who has ever laughed on the outside, while crying on the inside. Even more so, it’s a must-read for anyone who has ever laughed on the outside while sitting next to someone who’s crying on the inside.
Shrill is a very important work that has changed the way I think about women and men, about fat, and about what's funny.