Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling Review

Well, I officially suck at consistency. It’s been almost two months since my last post, and the only thing I can say is: blame it on the holiday season? Please?

Today I’m going to give you a little bit of insight into my actual human life and not just my blog life: I am a person with a lot of anxieties. Unfortunately, I’m also the type of person who will have a panic attack and think, you know what I should do? Watch a serial killer documentary. Probably not the best idea, but how else am I supposed to know how to get away with murder?

My family and my boyfriend are always so helpful, though. In December my boyfriend told me I should stop reading Holocaust memoirs and read something a little more uplifting. Good job, boyfriend. Good job.

So I put down the book and we went to Barnes and Noble to pick out books together. I bought a few books including Yes Please by Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me? I remember talking to you guys about Mindy Kaling’s first book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) and telling you how awesome it was. So when I found out (way too late in the game, I might add) that Mindy had written a new book, I was stoked and could not wait to get home to read it.

I have to say, I was a little disappointed. Not because it wasn’t a funny book, or an entertaining book, but because I thought that now that Mindy Kaling is a little more famous than before, she tried to pander a bit to her audience, but ended up doing it in a bad way.

I’ll explain:

Since her first book was released she has been a role model to women and girls of all ages, of all sizes and shapes, and of all colors. Kaling openly admits to being a size 10 in both of her books, and in the first one she makes a big deal about being content with how you look. Personally, I thought that was an incredible message to send out to people. As a woman who is bigger, myself, I see and feel the pressure every day for women to look a certain way. There isn’t just pressure towards bigger, curvier women to be smaller, there’s also pressure towards skinny and less curvy women to be slightly bigger – to be a Victoria’s Secret Model. Everyone wants to make the perfect potion to make themselves look a certain way: add a pinch of C-cup boobs, a sprinkle of the perfect tan, a dash of a toned and flat stomach, a half a cup of flawless skin, and an eye of newt.

But to be frank, all of that is complete bullshit. There’s so much pressure in everything you do: jobs, relationships with other people, goals, there’s even pressure when you drive (screw you guy behind me – I’m going 5 miles over the speed limit, get off my butt). The only thing you can do to help yourself is tune them out. Do what you think is right. Be proud of how you look. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should and shouldn’t do. Every BODY is different, and there’s a reason for that. It’s not because we need to be the same, it’s because we’re SUPPOSED to be different.

But I digress… In Mindy Kaling’s second book she kind of does a 180 from her original opinions. I don’t think she means to, I actually think she’s trying to convey a better message. But here’s what happened:

Kaling tries to say that she’s a real person too and sometimes doesn’t love the way she looks. That’s an awesome message, I agree. It’s important for people to understand that those thoughts and feelings are completely normal. But then she goes on to tell a story: A magazine or website or something of that nature put her on a list of the most beautiful curvy and bigger women in Hollywood. Again, that’s awesome. Except that Kaling then says that she looked through the list and saw people twice her size and thought, “why am I on a list with these heifers?” What a horrible thing to say.

I understand that she’s a comedian and was just making a joke. But why would you spend your career trying to be a role model for plus size women and then bad mouth them at the same time? That’s not right. And while I love Mindy, I think she’s hilarious, a phenomenal writer, and a really great role model, I also think she should’ve left that part out of the book.

We all say things we don’t necessarily mean, or say things that might sound a little bit cruel without meaning it to, but that doesn’t mean that it’s okay to tell people to love their body and stop shaming each other for how they look and then call them a “heifer” – that’s just mean.

I feel like the majority of the book was written to get people to look at her as a regular human, but she just went about it the wrong way. I completely understand telling your audience that even the most confident person will still look in the mirror and want to change something. What I don’t understand is giving your audience that message, and then adding to their insecurities by telling them that if they’re bigger than a size ten it’s okay to make fun of other people and call them fat.

And look, as I’ve mentioned before, I LOVE Mindy. I think she’s awesome. But that doesn’t mean that I’ll always agree with what she says.

SOOO, after that long rant, I would like to point out some things I thought were awesome in the book:

  • Kaling talking about her anxieties. This was helpful since, as I mentioned before, I’ve been having a lot of panic attacks recently.
  • Kaling discussing her thoughts on marriage, love, sex, and friendship. A lot of celebrities don’t delve into their personal relationships as much as she did and I thought that was an amazing way to feel closer to your audience and for the audience to feel closer to her.
  • Learning her keys to success.
  • How to make it in Hollywood! (Spoiler: no one knows the answer. It’s all about luck)
  • Her time with President Obama.

I very much recommend reading this book, I just suggest you take what she says at face value and not idolize her and take what she says as gospel. Because everyone is different, and no one should feel like they’re being made fun of for how they look.

Hopefully I’ll be writing more soon. I have about 10 different blog ideas that I’m super excited to write about. So stay tuned!

Until next time,

Rachel

e-mail: rachel@booksandcleverness.com

Nonfiction or Fiction?

Hi y’all! I can’t believe I haven’t posted anything in almost four weeks. Fortunately, I’m going to cut right to the chase. I’m in a nonfiction mood and I’m starting to wonder what is better: nonfiction or fiction. Okay, maybe that’s not entirely true. I’ve just been starting to wonder when nonfiction or fiction begins to be too much.

For example, for a long time I really only read memoirs. I loved them, I loved being able to transport myself into someone else’s life for a short while. But for whatever reason I stopped reading them. I decided that fiction caught my eye more and that I could transport myself into not just someone else’s life but an entirely different universe and that was extremely appealing to me.

…Until recently. Recently I’ve been on a Netflix binge of crime documentaries. And I’m not talking about watching Law & Order type stuff. I’m talking watching shows about serial killers, about man hunts, about treatment in prisons and prisoners stories – even about the Drugs War inside prisons. I’ve been going ALL OUT to the point where I decided it would be a great idea to start reading nonfiction books again. But fear not, I decided to stick to the scary theme of murderers and bought The Strange Case of Dr. H.H. Holmes.

H.H. Holmes was America’s “first” serial killer. After murdering dozens of people during the Chicago World’s Fair in the late 1880s and continuing his murder spree by using his home (dubbed “The Castle”) as a glorified torture chamber, H.H. Holmes became an infamous name in history. Quite the uplifting story! This nearly 500 page book was extremely graphic and extremely strange to read because a part of me wanted to believe it wasn’t true, even though it 100% was. Also it was partially written by H.H. Holmes himself as his written confession of a lot of murders.

To give myself a change of pace after reading it, I decided to buy a book called Deep Down Dark by H├ęctor Tobar. This book is about the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped 2,000 feet below ground for over 60 days. Again, so uplifting. I’m almost done with this book, and to be honest it’s absolutely incredible. I think it’s even being turned into a movie, which would be really cool. But it’s nonetheless a very depressing story. As nice it is, and as great as it is that they were found and rescued, it’s still about 33 men living in their own filth in pitch black eating a spoon full of canned tuna a day and drinking dirty oil filled water that the men bathed in. So, yeah, not very happy.

But to top it all off (and to bring into light my predicament) I started thinking of books I should read next. And rather than read the many books I’ve already bought, or even to read the Star Wars prequel book that my boyfriend surprised me with, I’ve started thinking I should re-read The Diary of Anne Frank AND Night by Elie Wiesel. Because apparently serial killers, dying miners and crime documentaries weren’t enough, I had to decide to not only read, but RE-read two of the most depressing books of all time.

Now here’s where the predicament lies: I don’t think it’s at all bad to be reading these things! There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to learn more about things that school doesn’t go over. I’ve never been in a classroom that was like, “Hey kids! Lets talk about Jeffrey Dahmer!” It’s just not going to happen. Sometimes you need to use your own curiosity to learn things that aren’t publicized too much. Knowledge is power.

But when is it enough? When do you tell yourself, “you know what, I know it’s really interesting, but maybe limit yourself to one depressing book every now and then.” or “instead of watching The Killer Speaks, let’s watch Bob’s Burgers for a while”?

The hard thing is: I have no idea. For years and years I only read fiction. To give you a time frame, the last two memoirs that I read were the hilarious Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? in 2012 . and then The Devil at My Heels in early to mid 2014. That’s THREE years ago and more than a year ago! So am I going to be stuck on this autobiographical kick for the next three years, or at the very least a year? That seems like a really long time. But in comparison, I’ve been reading fiction books for that amount of time and haven’t felt like that was too much. It seems normal, it seems like what a regular reader does.

Which makes me wonder: which is better? What captures the attention more? What makes nonfiction seem somewhat scary in comparison to a fiction book? Fiction can be just as depressing (see my Letter to John Green. God damnit The Fault in Our Stars) but I guess it’s that disconnect: when you’re reading fiction you know that at the end of the book, it’s over. It’s done. But with a true story it hits you in the empathy gut really hard for a long time. It’s something that won’t leave you.

So I guess what I’m saying is, what’s better? Reading something completely depressing and horrible but knowing that it’s just fiction, or reading something that is true and horrible, but will ultimately give you more insight into the real world?

Comment below or send me an e-mail at rachel@booksandcleverness.com so I can hear your opinions. I always love your opinions!

Until next time (and hopefully it won’t be four weeks from now!)

Rachel