Am I a fattist? Well, occasionally people have read Red Audrey, and come away saying, Yes. She’s a fattist. She hates the fat people. All her characters are beautiful pencils. Rich, beautiful pencils, who say mean things about swamp cows. Jane Elliott is filled with self-loathing. It’s her thing. The novel should have been subtitled: Self-Loathing, A Love Story.
I have two major regrets about Red Audrey. One, it’s overwritten. I can give you cringe-worthy pages. Two, I put two kitchen sinks in because I was worried it would be the only novel I ever wrote. Should I have been more sensitive about body types? Probably.
I wrote Red Audrey at a time when I ate 6 meals a day, and couldn’t hold my weight at 140. Friends, family, and coworkers felt an incessant need to tell me they were worried I had an eating disorder. My boss wanted me to report everything I ate to him daily. Eventually, my husband started fielding these conversations because they were so upsetting. And since childhood, strangers have felt it’s perfectly OK to come up and touch me. I couldn’t write about body image as a whole because I was absorbed with my own. With untangling and deciphering it. I was writing about athletes in their twenties. Granola wild things. I was writing about my experience. And if I’d had more grace and awareness, I couldn’t have told that story about hating myself. Because I hated myself, I wrote a story about love in spite of everything.