It would be rare if you are a female in the United States of America, not to empathise immediately with the heorine Plum, of Sarai Walker’s novel “Dietland.” For who, even those of us categorized in the “normal” or even “skinny” category, haven’t looked in the mirror and thought “I could lose 5 – 10 pounds!”? You’d have to be living in a commune in remote Utah not to feel some kind of pressure from the world creep in on your psyche.
So it is that Sarai’s novel captures not only the outer war women have with the world in how they are viewed in terms of their bodyfat percentage, but also, and more importantly, the inner war that comes with living in our media heavy, Facebook, Instagram, selfie overload society. Dietland is both a harsh critique of the dieting industry, which is mainly targeted towards women, and it also slams the Media Industry, most particularly women’s magazines, for perpetuating the myth that women have to be skinny and attractive to be someone in this society.
The story itself, without giving away any of the details, is at times moving, and other times a very funny commentary with in jokes on working in the magazine industry. The plot is a bit hallucinatory, and does parallel well with the Alice in Wonderland analogies that are thrown in. The heroine is in fact being thrown into her own rabbithole of how she views herself and through the course of the novel encounters various challenges to how she is going to view herself–the way others do or the way she wants to. While not everyone will agree or like points in the book, I would suggest that the book is a bit of a rorschach for how each reader has internalized their own feelings about weight, women, and the value beteween the two. If you want to find out whether or not you have any personal prejudice about weight, whether you yourself are overweight or not, take the jump down the rabbit hole yourself and read “Dietland.” You will not be sorry you took the journey.