Book Reviews

Plus+ : Style Inspiration for Everyone, edited by Bethany Rutter


Plus+ by Bethany Rutter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every now and then I am reminded of an interview I read with Beth Ditto, back in the dawn of time when newspapers were still newspapers and still made of paper and print. The author wondered, in the way that was clearly his wont, at the fact that Beth Ditto did not smell like he expected a fat person to smell. And this line about Beth Ditto has stuck with me over the years, a splinter in my thoughts as a fat person learning to live my life and learning to live it on my own terms in a world so often determined to live it for me. The line became became less of a splinter as I realised an undeniable truth: the interviewer was a moron, and sentiments like this, wondered with a faux-artless air, were repellent at every level. He is dead now that writer, and I do not miss his work. But sometimes that line is still with me when I wonder if this is it: that to be fat is to be marginalised, to be brought down to the specifics of the fool that studies you as though you are something to be examined, to be found wanting, to be found nearer to Narnia than to a well-fitted peplum.

(“You read Vogue? … You?”)

And I thought about the Beth Ditto line again when I received a copy of Plus+ from a Twitter giveaway, and when I read it I realised that this is an important, important book. It is the sort of book that makes the line go away; that makes you realise that you exist, that you are – you are. I loved it. I would have cried were I given it as a child. I almost cried when I read it now, because it is so resplendent and so, so simple. Plus size women being fashionable. Plus size women being beautiful. Plus size women rocking something other than the sad-sack dresses that certain high street stores seem determined to perpetuate upon us! Plus size women being themselves. Gorgeously. Fiercely. Wholly. Such a simple thing, such a rarely rendered thing in mainstream publishing.

Were I running a school library, or indeed managing a public one, I would have a copy of this on the shelves – face out, proud, seen. It is a book that holds a thousand tiny revolutions inside it; we speak so often of getting the right book to the right reader at the right time, and I think if this book reaches somebody at the right time, it will change their world. It tells them that it’s okay to be who they are. It tells them not that they can be beautiful – but that they are. Such a quiet thing. Such a simple thing. Such a perfect powerhouse of a book.

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