READ HER HIPS: OCEAN GROVER PUBLISHES MEMOIR

Ocean Grove resident Kim Brittingham’s memoir, “Read My Hips: How I learned to love my body, ditch dieting and live large” is a smart, witty, dishy and real look back at the first half of her life that will make anyone who looks at themselves twice in the mirror after getting out of the shower laugh out loud.

Kim, busy with her first book promotional tour, took a moment to speak with me last week.

TBP:  I think women should rule the world.  From my experience, though, women don’t help each other as much as they should – rather, they focus on their peer’s vulnerabilities.  Men seem to be different.

Kim:  I think men are like TV lawyers who do intense battle against one another in the courtroom but can still go for a drink together afterward.  I hate to generalize but I do think women who feel competitive with other women tend to be more petty and personal.

We are all going to rot in a box one day – who cares if your neighbor has fewer spider veins than you?  I’m more interested in experiencing the world beyond my reflection in the mirror.  I don’t have time to worry about competing with other women’s lives.  I’m too busy piloting my own.

What can women do to change that attitude?  Start holding each other up instead of putting each other down.  “Be the change”, as they say.  Women can conduct themselves according to their own best standards.

Kim Brittingham

TBP:  And adults can pay more attention to what they say to children.

Kim:  Sometimes, when I was a kid, if I took a second helping at dinner, my parents would say, “Do you want to grow up to look like your Aunt Phyllis?”  In fact, there’s any entire chapter in my book about this called “Fat Aunt Phyllis”.

She was my favorite aunt.  She had a great sense of humor.  Her laugh was so infectious.  She was super-creative.  She wrote stories and hand-made a lot of the gifts she gave.  She was really clever and talented.  She was also fat.

TBP:  You write about working at a fancy-pants magazine where an advertiser said they did not want their product “seen on fat people” and a public relations company who rejected you for a writing job because you were “too fat.”  What advice would you give Kate Middleton, soon to be the most photographed and talked about woman in the world?

Kim:  Well, I hope she’s able to separate the authentic experience of her life from all the millions of distracted, jabbering little heads out there who make it their sad business to scrutinize her at every turn.

If Kate keeps her eye on the prize so to speak, on what she wants out of life and what she wants to bring to the world, I think she’ll maintain a healthy perspective.  What other people have to say about her body, her wardrobe, her hair style, and anything else will roll right off her shoulders.

TBP:  What is it like to see your name and face on a real book published by a real publisher (Random House)?

Kim:  Surreal!  It’s weird to see something you visualized since you were a kid coming true.  I almost had a mental breakdown the first time I walked into the lobby of Random House because it looked exactly the way I imagined it would when I was a kid.

I used to daydream about walking into my publisher’s building, and I imagined this huge three-story high lobby, and giant showcases on the wall with books behind glass – that’s exactly what the Random House lobby looks like.

I had to pinch myself and say, “Is this real, or am I really still eleven years old, laying in my twin bed with the yellow and white checkered sheets under the butterfly bedspread, trying to get to sleep and fantasizing about the future?”

TBP:  I loved your book on so many levels – especially its humor.  I kinda took a serious tone in our conversation but do not want your fans to think the book is anything but a great beach read!  What do you want people to know about “Read My Hips”?

Kim:  I know this is the kind of thing every author says, but I mean this:  I think every girl and woman living in the United States and western-influenced nations on the planet needs to read “Read My Hips”.

I think it’s important, because we have such powerful, relentless corporate-sponsored messages coming at us all the time, telling us we need to give up huge portions of our income to fix what’s supposedly wrong with us – we need another perspective.

A lot of us are fat because we’ve been trying so hard not to be.  And the reason we’re trying so hard not to be fat, is because we live in a culture that tries to make life so distinctly unpleasant for fat people.

Also, we’re taught that our looks should be our top priority, and when we dare to think otherwise, we’re reminded that achieving thinness is not just a question of vanity – it’s a health issue.  But the health information around fatness is often inaccurate, and frequently presented in a tone of hatred that we barely even recognize because the hatred of fat people has become so acceptable.

Strangely enough, this all makes “Read My Hips” sound like some heavy-handed sociopolitical book, but it’s not – it’s a personal memoir, a collection of stories about a real human life – mine.  There are some really funny moments, and moments that will make you cry.  Maybe that’s what’s so nice about it – the fact that you’re peeking into a life with moments so similar to your own.

So you’re gaining a perspective on body image issues that’s probably very different from what you’re used to, but through the telling of personal stories.  I think it’s pretty painless.  But then, I’m totally biased!

“Read My Hips” is available nationwide Tuesday (May 3).  KimWrites.com has more info.

Saturday, May 7, Kim and Words bookstore owner Bob Podrasky, a 21-year veteran of the publishing industry offer their perspectives on being a writer – from how to get your book published by a fancy-pants publisher to how to market and promote yourself to other opportunties available today.  Stephen Crane House (508 Fourth Avenue), 1 pm to 4 pm, $20.

Richard@TheBPlot.com

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