Joe Bliven

Bad Fat Black Girl
By Sesali Bowen


January 20th, 2022

This is exactly the kind of intersectionality that feminist discourse needs. Many feminists might be uncomfortable with the reality that women like Bowen exist. Some girls get in fights and see those experiences as formative, some women go to jail, some perform sex work. If we are going to champion feminism, it can't be a feminism that tries to ignore the existence of women like Sesali Bowen. Our feminism needs to be one that gives these women an equal seat at the table.

Early in this book, I was close to quitting and returning it to the library. The author is extremely open and honest about her experiences and I got a voyeuristic sense that this book was not written for me, and I had no business reading it. I imagine if Bowen met me randomly at the library, she wouldn't have so openly shared such vulnerable moments in her life with me. I got a few hints early in the book that made me feel that maybe I wasn't an uninvited party, and by the halfway mark I was fully confident that I was at least considered when writing this book. There are parts where she directly addresses men, and plenty of moments where she stops to define slang terms, most of which aren't very obscure if you're under forty and grew up in an urban setting.

My one criticism of this book, and it's really just more of a personal preference thing, is that the book is unfocused in it's identity. It's one part feminist theory, one part memoir, and one part self-help/advice. It's kind of funny that at the beginning of the book she proclaims that the book isn't a self-help book, even though it does contain a lot of life and dating advice. My favorite bits are the feminist theory, I really like Bowen's contribution to the discussion of feminism and I think they are important ideas to be proliferated in the movement. The memoir aspects were good but mostly in how they informed the theory, on it's own I probably wouldn't have read a memoir by Sesali Bowen.

Good book. You should read it.