Clarkisha Kent is well-known on social media for her acerbic wit, dissecting social and cultural issues with a dash of pop culture silliness with tactical precision. For example, her “Groupon peen” tweet brought Twitter to its knees. Now she brings that sharp focus to her memoir, Fat Off, Fat On: A Big Bitch Manifesto. Employing that same lens to analyze her life in hindsight, she doesn’t hide from the beautiful, the tragic, or those cringe moments that make you flinch even in retrospect.
Clarkisha uses her favorite series—now her second favorite—to guide her chapter titles, showing the care she brings to everything she’s involved in. Fat Off, Fat On: A Big Bitch Manifesto is familiar, exciting and allows readers to get to know themselves while learning about Clarkisha.
Fat Off, Fat On Demonstrates Family Isn’t Always Blood
Clarkisha’s Fat Off, Fat On: A Big Bitch Manifesto, published by Feminist Press, is like spending a handful of hours with a best friend. So conversation flows from one to the next seamlessly. It’s like listening to a friend regale you with her recent travails, except this begins at birth. The first few chapters cover her upbringing and how that negatively impacted her relationship with herself. As children, we don’t have the language to label the harm, arguably making the damage more egregious. Reading “My Shitty Family” and seeing the moments that life parallels your own is heartbreaking. Yet there’s a kinship there as well.
Clarkisha’s experience also gives those who do not understand a look at the long-term internalized ramifications. Because when families and society diminish children for no other reason than their physical appearance, harm is inevitable. Trying to exist as a fat, Black, Nigerian-American, and queer woman, Clarkisha takes readers through the ups and downs of how she arrived at who she is today. She doesn’t sugarcoat the bad. Rather, Clarkisha traverses her formative years with her violent philandering father, insulting mother, and sister with pain. and rage. But through it all, she invites us in, talking to readers like they’re new friends.
Romantic Liaisons and Religious Fervor
Growing up in a Christian household is one of the most traumatic and destructive experiences. Particularly one that honors that age-old tradition of hypocrisy and rigid gender constraints. Clarkisha delves into the toxic, high school mean girls mentality of the supposed “holy” congregation. That religious guilt never entirely leaves. Because what happens in childhood sticks with us. Not only is sex before marriage off the table, but deviating from heteronormative relationships is taboo. Her church could’ve been next door to mine with the preaching and undercurrent of malicious judgment. They stunt the growth of many kids growing up under those rigid constraints.
But Clarkisha, capable of analyzing and discernment people twice her age lack, began to pick apart that hellfire condemnation. She found the two-faced nature of religious zealotry that fault her LGBTQ+ peers, who exhibit more love of humanity. Yet those so-called “saved” are guaranteed entry into the pearly gates because they do the horizontal tango with the opposite sex? Still, Clarkisha Kent takes readers on her journey to accepting her bisexual identity, even some sweet yet missed opportunities for romance. Fat Off Fat On: A Big Bitch Manifesto humanizes an intersectional identity that repeatedly gets ignored while being constantly visible.
Best Memoir of 2023! Yes, I Said It
Fat Off Fat On: A Big Bitch Manifesto blends Clarkisha’s writing style of thorny quips with flawless incorporation of pop culture, using personal experiences and hilarity to pick apart the larger societal ills, all delivered with a conversational flair. To describe it as a must-have doesn’t do it justice. This book was essential twenty years ago. Now it should be mandatory as an eye-opening critique of the toxic social beliefs of religion and the nuclear family at the expense of valued lives and white supremacy’s hand in all of it.