Reading is one of my favorite forms of self care. During the winter, I enjoy snuggling under a blanket with a steaming cup of chai, getting lost in a book. I’m not really stuck to one particular genre, I try to mix it up with every new book. I enjoy romance, historical fiction, adventure, mystery, memoirs, essays, humor, and graphic novels. However, one thing I’m always on the search for in my books is diversity. I love when the characters are multi-dimensional and make a little room in the world for ALL kinds of people.
As a Plus Sized person, body diversity and representation is something I am passionate about in my books. I’m so happy when I find those with a body positive hero, shouting to the world that fat people are fierce, amazing, and worthy of love. Recently, the book, One To Watch by Kate Stayman-London, has been popping up all over my social feeds as a suggested body positive read. An exciting, romantic story starring a gorgeous fat girl? Yes, please!
One to Watch follows the story of Bea Schumacher, an LA-based Plus Size blogger/influencer. (My dream job!) Bea is glamorous, confident, and has a large following reading about her take on fashion, lifestyle, and inclusivity. She has great friends and a life she enjoys… but because of a complicated past, she has given up on the dating scene.
Bea is also a HUGE fan of the reality TV show, Main Squeeze (basically, The Bachelor.) One evening, while drunk Tweeting, she puts the show on blast for their lack of diversity in casting. By the next morning, the post has gone viral, making the network a little uncomfortable. To rectify the problem, the writers decide to cast Bea as the star of the next season of Main Squeeze. Though she is terrified of putting herself out there, and still claims she is uninterested in finding love, she agrees to do it for the exposure and to further her influence.
Though fictional, this book gives pretty good insight into how these “reality” dating shows probably work. Everything may seem like a fairy tale from the outside (the handsome men, exciting locales, dream wardrobe… hello Christian Siriano), but most of the romance is staged for the camera and Bea is often subject to manipulation. Through her encounters with the producers and the suitors, she is confronted with demons and shame from her past, while trying to make a stand for fat girls everywhere. Bea is a perfect heroine. You envy her. You want to yell at her. You feel her hurt. And ultimately, you find yourself cheering loudly for her.
I really enjoyed One To Watch! It has heart. It has body positive power. And, it has enough twists and turns to keep you guessing till the end of the book. More than anything, I could truly empathize with Bea’s struggle to love herself and be a Body Positive champion… while tuning out the voices that tell her she should hate herself. No matter how tough and empowered you may be, that struggle is still real!
Pick up One To Watch as your next vacation read.