INK IN WATER: AN IL­LUS­TRATED MEM­OIR (OR, HOW I KICKED ANOREXIA’S ASS AND EM­BRACED BODY POS­I­TIV­ITY)

Bitch: A Feminist Response to Pop Culture - - BOOK REVIEWS - Lacy J. Davis and Jim Ket­tner { New harbinger Publi­ca­tions } —raechel anne Jolie

Lacy J. Davis has be­come one of the big­gest names in body-pos­i­tive fit­ness. She runs the highly suc­cess­ful blog Su­per Strength Health; co-owns Lib­er­a­tion Bar­bell, a body­pos­i­tive gym in Port­land, Ore­gon; hosts the Flex Your Heart Ra­dio pod­cast; and is now a mem­oirist. Ink In Water: An Il­lus­trated Mem­oir (Or, How I Kicked Anorexia’s Ass and Em­braced Body Pos­i­tiv­ity), which Davis cocre­ated with her il­lus­tra­tor hus­band, Jim Ket­tner, pro­vides a deeply mov­ing ac­count of her strug­gle with anorexia, bu­limia, and ex­er­cise ad­dic­tion, told with the as­sis­tance of Ket­tner’s com­pelling il­lus­tra­tions.

Davis’s story is en­gag­ing be­cause she de­scribes the painful jux­ta­po­si­tion of be­ing a self-iden­ti­fied queer, punk fem­i­nist who was also ac­tively try­ing to shrink her­self. She had the anal­y­sis. She knew that “so­ci­ety’s beauty stan­dards were shit!” But on a deeper level, de­spite shelves full of Bikini Kill records and fem­i­nist lit­er­a­ture, she had in­ter­nal­ized a be­lief that her body was too big. A terrible breakup trig­gered that thought, and then cat­a­pulted her into a full­blown dis­or­der.

Ket­tner’s images pro­vide us with a pic­to­rial land­scape of the brain work­ing through body dys­mor­phia and di­et­ing. We walk with Davis, in pic­tures and writ­ing, through the hard­est years of her life, ones that in­clude the death of a close friend and the dev­as­tat­ing pro­gres­sion of her eat­ing dis­or­der. We wit­ness her com­pli­cated re­la­tion­ship with Overeaters Anony­mous (OA), which asks mem­bers to ad­mit their pow­er­less­ness over their dis­ease. But Davis didn’t feel pow­er­less; in fact, as a fem­i­nist, she knew that feel­ing pow­er­ful was prob­a­bly the only thing that would get her out of her dis­or­dered be­hav­ior. Ul­ti­mately, she was right.

Af­ter pages of haunt­ing images and vul­ner­a­ble in­sight into her head, Ink In Water has a happy end­ing—but it makes clear that re­cov­ery is a life­long process. Davis beau­ti­fully ex­plains her abil­ity to keep choos­ing re­cov­ery as a re­sult of her punk roots, lift­ing heavy weights, and en­ter­ing the bl­o­go­sphere. Although her story is unique in its re­la­tion­ship to fem­i­nism, queer­ness, and punk, the ma­jor themes are univer­sal, and the mem­oir will surely be pow­er­ful for those in any stage of re­cov­ery, and also for any­one try­ing to sup­port a loved one through re­cov­ery.

Her story is both heart­break­ing and tri­umphant, but more than any­thing, it’s re­lat­able. And for fem­i­nists who have gone through life feel­ing ashamed to talk about their com­pli­cated re­la­tion­ships with their bod­ies, it will be a gift.

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