I was first introduced to Nicole Byer on MTV’s Girl Code. It’s very rare to see a dark skinned, Black, plus size woman on TV. Especially if she’s not the butt of a joke. She was hilarious and I was instantly obsessed. The world got to know her as the host of Netflix’s Nailed It. A baking competition show filled with humorous failures. When I learned she was writing a book, I was excited. The excitement became more intense when I saw the cover. Nicole is in a purple bikini and platform heels. Her pose is reminiscent of Lil’ Kim’s iconic squat. However, upon reading #VERYFAT #VERYBRAVE: The Fat Girl’s Guide to Being #Brave and Not a Dejected, Melancholy, Down-in-the-Dumps Weeping Fat Girl in a Bikini, I couldn’t help but be a little divided. The book excels in some parts. Unfortunately, it misses the mark in more space than one.
Since the title is a mouthful, I’ll be referring to it as #VERYFAT #VERYBRAVE. I cannot say enough good things about the pictures! The photos are so beautiful and so vibrant. Every single photo in #VERYFAT #VERYBRAVE features Nicole Byer in a bikini. I mean, that is the point of the book. She mentions that she got inspiration for the book after constantly being asked by other plus women how she’s able to be so brave and confident. She mentions her experiences with shopping for clothing. As a designer and tailor, the “if it fastens, it fits” logic she gives is cringeworthy but I’ll let it slide. Nicole mentions how Lane Bryant was the first store she felt she belonged in. Side note: Do all plus girls have a Lane Bryant moment? Anyway, Nicole also mention that she was not always #brave. She had a very entertaining journey to confidence.
The title of the book is longer than the book itself. Well, that’s an exaggeration. However, the written part of the book is extremely short. The book is 228 pages and about 150 are pictures. The first chapter of the book is a bunch of lists containing tips. The gist is that these are tricks for plus size women to unlock #bravery. I ended up skipping the tips by the third list. It just felt frivolous. It would’ve been upsetting to have purchased a book full of lists. Later she makes a joke about having a word count and it all made sense. Alas, we get to the blurb about her life. She used four life events that she felt led her to her #bravery. This whole section was absolutely genius. Nicole could’ve included this in a more constructive way. Unfortunately, her humor doesn’t translate into the lists, at all.
Overall, #VERYFAT #VERYBRAVE would have been more successful as a coffee table book. Considering it is full of pictures anyway, it was pretty much halfway there. Nicole could have blown the images up and it would have been a humorous piece for the home. It would also be a conversation starter for anyone that dared to peek inside. The vibrant colors and outrageous wigs definitely lend themselves to coffee table fare. The layout as it is now does not do the reader, or Nicole, any justice. Again, I didn’t purchase a physical copy. Even looking at that version online, it appears to be in a novel format. Left to get lost on a shelf, missing the full potential. Everyone from Madonna to Rihanna have created coffee table books. Putting their vanity on full display. It would have been affirming for other plus size Black women to have our own version.
Finally, anyone looking for a memoir or hilarious biography of substance might want to skip this one. #VERYFAT #VERYBRAVE: The Fat Girl’s Guide to Being #Brave and Not a Dejected, Melancholy, Down-in-the-Dumps Weeping Fat Girl in a Bikini is unfortunately full of untapped potential. Nicole Byer is beautiful and the pictures are gorgeous. I do not regret purchasing the book. Underneath the shaky surface, she drops gems for anyone looking to embrace their fat. On the other hand, this would not have been something I would recommend to someone else. Unless you’re already a Nicole Byer fan, in that case, it’s definitely worth reading. The ebook experience leaves a lot to be desired. If I were to buy it again, I probably would have settled on the physical copy. Nicole Byer excels on her podcasts Why Won’t You Date Me and Best Friends with Sahseer Zamata. I highly recommend both.
Next Read: Cora Harrington: In Intimate Detail