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I knew I would read Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? the second I learned its title. That pretty well sums up my middle and high school experiences, except for the fact that everyone was hanging out without me, and I didn’t have a cool secret friend who made me okay with it.
If I didn’t already have an awesome sister, I’d say that perhaps Mindy Kaling would fill that void. As it stands, she and I could definitely be like-minded friends.
Throughout the book, Kaling says the things that I have always thought. For instance, who, exactly, is designing clothes for fat women?
(For the record, Kaling is not fat. She is not even chubby, as she cutely refers to herself. She is a size 8. If we were friends, I would have to hit her in the face with a frying pan for calling herself fat. But only if we were extremely close.)
But, seriously, who designs plus sized women’s clothes? I’d never really thought about it, but there is an inordinate amount of daisy patterns in the history of plus sized fashion. Does the daisy somehow represent the fat girl? Is that, like, the fat girl’s flower? I have a dear friend who has a daisy tattoo, and even after four kids, no one could call her fat while keeping a straight face. That beautiful bitch.
I can also relate to her statement, “College ruined me.” I excelled in college. It was a small campus, and I was one of only two wheelchair users, so most people knew who I was. But it wasn’t that strange, small campus, isolationist fame that ruined me. I was good – really good – at college. But, after graduation (and even now), I had no idea how to succeed in the real world. My only consolation is that Kaling is two years older than me, therefore, I will always have a two year window in which to prove myself.
This book isn’t great, but it is very good. It is funny and, importantly, relateable. And, although she is not at all fat, the fact that Kaling discusses her body issues, and the abuse she suffered for being shaped differently, is critical. Let’s face it: Kaling does not meet the typical standard of American beauty. She isn’t blonde, doesn’t have blue eyes, and isn’t a willowly 5’10”. But there are far more girls who will grow up looking like her than will grow up looking like your average supermodel. And they, just like Kaling, will hear – unironically – that they are “brave” for eschewing some arbitrarily assigned standards of beauty.
Way to go, Mindy! You are brave for living your life! (Sounds suspiciously like how “brave” I am, but that’s for another day.)
Personally, I think Mindy Kaling is a lovely looking woman. Obviously, it helps having professional stylists and photographers and whatnot working with you, but even so. And she deals with all the insecurities we all deal with, and the fact that she does is believable. Honestly, when Gwyneth Paltrow talks about her “insecurities” no one believes her, do we?
The book is a little dated; Kaling talks about The Office a lot and never mentions The Mindy Project. She also holds up the marriage of Amy Poehler and Will Arnett as an example of success. Of course, we all know how that worked out.
If you’re looking for a light, easy, funny read, pick up Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?. If you’re a fan of Mindy Kaling’s, well, you’ve probably already read this book, but if not, give it a go. If it takes you more than two days to read, well, we’ll discuss your literacy skills later.