First off, this book is a series of essays about famous women we all know — ie, Hillary Clinton, Kim Kardashian, Lena Dunham, etc — and all have strong opinions about, whether positive or negative. And second off, it’s nothing quite like I expected. Which I’m still trying to figure out if that’s a positive for me or not.
Originally, when I heard about this book, I thought the essays were penned by the women they’re about. But each woman portrayed is an image of something in our society that women aren’t necessarily supposed to be. Like too naked, too queer, or too loud. And all the essays are by Anne Helen Peterson, diving into what it means to be a woman today and be accused of being less than femininely perfect.
It’s a fascinating read and demands that you analyze these women thru Peterson’s lens and see if the points she brings up ring true for you. Taking, for example, the essay about Serena Williams, Peterson shares Williams’s history, how she was introduced to the game, and for being an African American woman who’s beyond successful in what’s typically presented as a white person’s sport. Then she pulls apart how the media and casual conversations attaches adjectives like “too strong” or “too masculine” or “too muscular” to Williams like it’s perfectly acceptable to criticize a person’s body when it’s not seen as the norm for something.
With Kim Kardashian or Nicki Minaj or Hillary Clinton or any of the women in this book, there are strong opinions about them. The adjectives we use daily to describe these powerful and strong women can be nothing short of ridiculous. And while at times Peterson’s prose is a little in your face at times if you’re not used to a women throwing caution to the wind and being an unapologetic feminist, she demands that you look in the mirror and see how you yourself see these women as well as how you address them.
To be honest, it took me a bit to read this book. Not because it was dense or uninteresting or material I didn’t want to dive more into, but because it was material requiring me to think. We’re so used to throwing these words around about women that they’re too much of something and not enough women. When the reality is that we live in a world where women can quite literally be anything they want and are still susceptible to ridiculous questions about their ideologies, their weight, their age, etc. And not to mention the wage gap or the inability to grasp that a woman can in fact know football routes in addition to STEM and fashion.
It’s a crazy world out there right now and I’m tired of the division amongst women. It’s books like Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud that take a critical lense to feminism, the lack of intersectionality, and what it means to be a woman in the public eye. This book may not be for the hearts unwilling to be exposed to new ideas but it is for those who are too much of something and refuse to fit into a box.