Happy Fat by Sofie Hagen

Happy Fat: Taking Up Space in a World That Wants to Shrink You by Sofie Hagen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Being fat is a process of daily reclamation of your body from a world that wants to claim it as their own. Hagen’s book examines what that means on an infinite number of levels whether that’s sitting on the same row on the plane with your friends, relationships, getting the bus, or simply opening the door and walking out into the world. It’s a mixture of personal memoir and interviews with others alongside guidance and support for those living their lives in othered bodies.

It is a book that is replete with kindness for others and Hagen’s writing is at its best here. There is an episode where she writes about going swimming and seeing another fat person there, looking terrified, as she enters the pool alone. This is the sort of feeling that you know, deep in your bones, and Hagen’s simple expression of love for this individual is incredibly beautiful. I also had an incredibly amount of time for how she articulates her thoughts around fatphobia and the duplicity of fattist thought; that one person can say something and then turn to you, the embodiment of that something, as if you are not even there at all. Being fat, plus-size, possessed of a non-normative body, is a hard and often lonely path. Hagen’s book is like a little piece of armour, a light in the darkness, and I loved it very much for that.

My only sticking point was with the interviews. While I found the interviews incredibly valid and valuable, I felt that they could have benefitted from some tighter editing.

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