Here's my review for "Curvy Girls." To purchase or see more about this anthology, click here.
I hadn’t even begun to read the stories in Rachel Kramer Bussel’s collection, “Curvy Girls” but just April Flores’s Foreword alone made me want to stand up and cheer. But then I thought, perhaps I should sit back down again. Because isn’t this 2012? Would it be like cheering a book celebrating Gay Pride? Because, while of course we should celebrate gay pride, we already do. It’s pretty much a given, or at least it is in my circles.
But the fact is, although yes it is 2012, we still do need to stand up and cheer for women accepting themselves as they are, whatever the size. There are still plenty, PLENTY of biases against fat women (like the n word, I’m still not even comfortable writing this f word), even in my own head. I don’t know if you’d call me fat – although I’ve certainly called myself that, and not in a nice way, more times than I care to admit – but you also wouldn't say I was thin. Like Bussel admits in her introduction, I too have curves I like and others I like less. And sometimes it just depends – on the day, who I’ve been with, what I’ve been watching on TV, what time of the month it is, whether I helped myself to that bag of chips in the cupboard and a whole myriad of other variables – as to whether or not I accept my wobbly bits.
Here’s a question I asked myself when I sat down to read this book: If I’m less curvy than the curvy girls in this book, will I still enjoy it? The answer, in short, is yes. And here’s why. I think all women can identify with being made to feel less than because of some fundamental part of themselves. For some it’s tied up with weight. It sometimes is for me. More often for me it’s this: Nice girls don’t have those thoughts. I’ve begun exorcising those demons through writing erotica. So to see other women at all various stages of accepting themselves, as the women in these stories are, makes me happy. Makes me proud. Makes me want to say, yes, we are women: we are thin, curvy, prudish, naughty, smart, silly, funny, sexy and everything in between. And it’s all okay. Better than okay. It’s awesome.
I also want to mention something neither Bussel nor Flores addresses in their introductions but I think is another key point: the men. Yes, these are stories about curvy women but they’re also about the men who love them, lust after them, teach them to love themselves if they’re not there yet. Are these men lowering their standards because they can’t get the thin girl? NO. These are smart men. Handsome men. Sexually mature men. So not only does this book break stereotypes about curvy women, it also does so for the men who love every gorgeous inch of them. Not in spite of their curves. Because of them. It is a complete myth that all men are only attracted to thin women. Sure, some are. And some are not.
As for the stories themselves, wow, there’s a lot of good stuff in here. I dare say something for everyone. The stand outs to me were, Justine Elyot’s “Wenching,” because I love when a story can turn me on and make me laugh, industry newcomer Arlene Brand’s “See and Be Seen,” because I loved the richness of her words, Kristina Wright’s “In the Morning Light” took my breath away with it’s ability to be unflinchingly honest about the post partum woman’s body and yet still be a turn on, a feat I am amazed and humbled by, and then both Sommer Marsden’s “Runner’s Calves” and Isabelle Gray’s “Marked” for being simultaneously really well written and really fucking hot. I almost don’t want to pick out these few though, since each story is compelling in its own right and worthy of your time.
Curvy girl or no, do yourself a favour and get this deliciously sensuous book. You won’t be disappointed!