Thursday, September 5, 2019

Unashamed: Musings of a Fat, Black Muslim by Leah Vernon



UNASHAMED was a lot of fun. Sometimes you read a memoir that is filled to the bursting with personality and you can literally imagine them regaling you with their adventures in person, in their own voice, just by reading their words on the page. This memoir was like that. Leah Vernon has an opinion and she doesn't really care if you like it or not: and whether or not you approve of that, having that sort of fierce, haters-gonna-hate attitude is really appealing-- especially to someone like me, a social weenie.

In this memoir, Leah Vernon talks about growing up as a Black Muslim, and what that intersectionality looks like and feels like. She talks about what it was like to grow up poor. She talks about her toxic relationships with men and family, and how she either learned to work them out or leave. She talks about miscarriage and abortion. She talks about body positive rep, and the pain of being the "poster child" for whichever part of her identity she's supposed to be representing at the moment based on the arbitrary biases of whoever is interrogating her. There's a LOT to unpack.

And for the most part, I think Leah did a really good job. Everything in here is written about so thoughtfully. She is an exceptional story-teller, and her toxic saga with her ex-husband felt like something out of a Lifetime drama. I also enjoyed reading about how she grew from her negative experiences and what they taught her, and how that equipped her to deal with internet fame as a fashion blogger-- not just on how to deal with trolls, but also on how to be grateful for attention and support when representing a body-type and look that hasn't been typical in the fashion industry.

If you're looking for a book that talks about religious diversity, body positive rep, hijabi rep, Black Muslim rep, and all sorts of other variations on intersectionality, I think UNASHAMED is a great book. I'm going to recommend it to several friends I know of who enjoy reading inspiring memoirs like these that really open your eyes to the things that modern women do to make a difference. Writing style-wise and humor-wise, she reminded me a little of Phoebe Robinson. I really hope she writes another book!

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!

4 to 4.5 out of 5 stars

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