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The first time I met Jes Baker was at a house in the Hollywood Hills. I was lucky enough to asked to be part of the Fattitude documentary, which was filming there. The producers had flown me in and I remember being very nervous about failing miserably in front of the camera. While I waited to do my interview, I sat in the living room, planning to keep to myself and just get through the thing. Fate had other plans, as that’s when Jes entered the room.
Jes’ joy and energy is contagious, and I found myself relaxing and really enjoying our conversation. It’s easy to think that everyone you see Instagram is putting on some sort of persona. The thing that always struck me about Jes is that she’s not afraid to be real and honest, something inspiring in “influencer” era. Her approach stayed with me and I try to bring some of that to what we do here at Chubstr.
Jes channeled that honesty into her second book, a memoir called Landwhale, published earlier this year. In the book, she gives readers a look at every facet of her life, from growing up fat, to the trials and tribulations of dating and finding love, to success and failure in the public eye. This book is a real account of the highs and lows of Jes Baker’s life, sharing a few stories that most people would want to hide away and forget.
What stood out to me most about Landwhale is exactly that – Jes isn’t trying to be something she isn’t. She talks about wrestling with body image, trying shitty diets that didn’t work, dealing with trolls, and not fitting into the seat on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (something we both have in common). She talks about how difficult it can be to love yourself in a world that tells you you’re never enough, and how your body is yours and you can do whatever you want with it. Something we don’t hear often enough.
Landwhale is Jes Baker’s story, but in many ways, it’s also our story. The triumphs, failures and sometimes hilarious experiences she shares in the book are things we can relate to. Trying to find yourself, doing the never-ending work of accepting yourself (and understanding it’s okay if you’re failing at that) and knowing that you deserve dignity at any size are things that many of us grapple with.
I left my first conversation with Jes in the Hollywood Hills with a new perspective on openness and honesty when it comes to being a fat person in today’s society. Landwhale is like that conversation on steroids. It’s fun, entertaining, inspirational, but most of all, it feels like hanging out with a friend who gets you and accepts you warts and all, which we could all use more of.