Kate Stayman-London | July 2020 | 417 pages
Kate Stayman-London was a digital writer for Hillary Clintons campaign. I heard of her back then so the name was familiar when this book landed in my feed, sometime late last year. I’m glad she wrote this book though I’ve been vacillating between if this should be 3 stars, or 4. 😶😵
One To Watch is about plus size, IG famous, fashion blogger Bea Schumacher. Bea, after a heated blog rant on the need for diversity in reality television, gets herself picked to star in a TV dating show, a’la The Bachelor(ette). It follows Bea through a series of incredible
highs, (mostly) lows and lowers. 🤦🏾♀️
Very much like Felix Ever After, the story is about the journey but the journey is extremely rocky. Often, more cringe worthy then feel good rom-com. We learn about Bea, her life, friends, family and penchant for picking unavailable men, before the show even starts. To be fair, before the show, I was likely drinking the ‘Bea kool-aid’ thinking she was a well traveled, body positive, ambitious young women, probably about to grapple with the pushback society throws at young women such as that. I jumped to conclusions way too soon. 🙄
Pro: Bea is definitely well traveled and ambitious. You will get to hear how she was courageous enough to choose a different path out of school and allowed her blog to take her around the world and gain herself more than 500k followers. We should all be so lucky! She has a loving, supportive family unit…again, we should all be so lucky. And even in her flaws, Bea is self aware and appears to be a good advocate for herself when shit hits the fan.
Another huge fun ‘pro’ is the diversity demonstrated in the books characters. At times it feels a bit forced but, I get it. You can play diversity & inclusion bingo with the characters and topics that come up in the book. Characters include a young black man from suburbia, an asian love interest, a lesbian, a gay guy on the cusp of coming out, a middle school aged gender nonconforming child, an obese white male and of course, Bea herself, an obese white women.
Cons: The body positivity part slips quite a bit once Bea has to go ‘public’ on the show. Apparently, fat plays better on IG than TV. We learn that Bea feels exposed and insecure without the protection of IG’s filters, still angles and good lighting. This comes up the first day of filming the show, when producers stage a hot tub scene. Bea has a meltdown about appearing in a bathing suit on TV, after admitting she’s been photographed several times in 2 pieces on her IG. The rant she launches here and in several other places, has the overture of ‘you all should know this’. Im not sure if its ok to pretend, and then accuse your audience for believing what you’ve pretended.
The negative talk towards Bea from other characters or even her own self chatter, gets pretty offensive. Men online telling her she’s a cow and should be slaughtered as such, raped and tortured. Contestants on the show teaming up and calling her names. Convinced that she wants to loose weight because who would WANT to look like THAT?! Thats not even the worse of it.
Overall, Bea handles the humiliation and challenges with grace but, Im not sure this story would encourage someone to follow in her footsteps. Im not an obese woman so Im not familiar with the perils of that life. I do think everyone should be treated with dignity and we shouldn’t assume people are unhappy with their weight and/or situation. Dont project your fear, sadness, and insecurities on to someone else!
Anyway, overall great book and I did enjoy reading about Bea and her perils. Super imaginative book. Book 2/2021