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Bad Fat Black Girl: Notes from a Trap Feminist

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From funny and fearless entertainment journalist Sesali Bowen, Bad Fat Black Girl combines rule-breaking feminist theory, witty and insightful personal memoir, and cutting cultural analysis for an unforgettable, genre-defining debut. Growing up on the south side of Chicago, Sesali Bowen learned early on how to hustle, stay on her toes, and champion other Black women and fem From funny and fearless entertainment journalist Sesali Bowen, Bad Fat Black Girl combines rule-breaking feminist theory, witty and insightful personal memoir, and cutting cultural analysis for an unforgettable, genre-defining debut. Growing up on the south side of Chicago, Sesali Bowen learned early on how to hustle, stay on her toes, and champion other Black women and femmes as she navigated Blackness, queerness, fatness, friendship, poverty, sex work, and self-love.  Her love of trap music led her to the top of hip-hop journalism, profiling game-changing artists like Megan Thee Stallion, Lizzo, and Janelle Monae. But despite all the beauty, complexity, and general badassery she saw, Bowen found none of that nuance represented in mainstream feminism. Thus, she coined Trap Feminism, a contemporary framework that interrogates where feminism and hip-hop intersect. Notes from a Trap Feminist offers a new, inclusive feminism for the modern world. Weaving together searing personal essay and cultural commentary, Bowen interrogates sexism, fatphobia, and capitalism all within the context of race and hip-hop. In the process, she continues a Black feminist legacy of unmatched sheer determination and creative resilience. Bad bitches: this one’s for you.


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From funny and fearless entertainment journalist Sesali Bowen, Bad Fat Black Girl combines rule-breaking feminist theory, witty and insightful personal memoir, and cutting cultural analysis for an unforgettable, genre-defining debut. Growing up on the south side of Chicago, Sesali Bowen learned early on how to hustle, stay on her toes, and champion other Black women and fem From funny and fearless entertainment journalist Sesali Bowen, Bad Fat Black Girl combines rule-breaking feminist theory, witty and insightful personal memoir, and cutting cultural analysis for an unforgettable, genre-defining debut. Growing up on the south side of Chicago, Sesali Bowen learned early on how to hustle, stay on her toes, and champion other Black women and femmes as she navigated Blackness, queerness, fatness, friendship, poverty, sex work, and self-love.  Her love of trap music led her to the top of hip-hop journalism, profiling game-changing artists like Megan Thee Stallion, Lizzo, and Janelle Monae. But despite all the beauty, complexity, and general badassery she saw, Bowen found none of that nuance represented in mainstream feminism. Thus, she coined Trap Feminism, a contemporary framework that interrogates where feminism and hip-hop intersect. Notes from a Trap Feminist offers a new, inclusive feminism for the modern world. Weaving together searing personal essay and cultural commentary, Bowen interrogates sexism, fatphobia, and capitalism all within the context of race and hip-hop. In the process, she continues a Black feminist legacy of unmatched sheer determination and creative resilience. Bad bitches: this one’s for you.

30 review for Bad Fat Black Girl: Notes from a Trap Feminist

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bookishrealm

    This is one of those books that came at me in ways that I couldn't have even anticipated. If you're someone that is interested in reading nonfiction that highlights the explicit experience of Black women in America, I would recommend picking this book up. Bad Fat Black Girl is an interesting look into the experience of Black women, Black femmes against the back drop of trap music. I've grown up listening to a lot of trap music so on the surface level there were a lot of references to songs that m This is one of those books that came at me in ways that I couldn't have even anticipated. If you're someone that is interested in reading nonfiction that highlights the explicit experience of Black women in America, I would recommend picking this book up. Bad Fat Black Girl is an interesting look into the experience of Black women, Black femmes against the back drop of trap music. I've grown up listening to a lot of trap music so on the surface level there were a lot of references to songs that made me instantaneously connect with the book. On a deeper level, I appreciated that Bowen was able to capture this specific sub-genre of hip-hop and utilize it to illustrate how Black women and femmes are often left out of conversations related to feminism. Bowen leaves no stone unturned. There is dialogue related to being a Black fat woman or femme in a society that often places an emphasis on the unrealistic "slim thick" body crafted by Dr. Miami, there is dialogue about sex work and sex trafficking, conversations related directly to Black queerness, the often volatile relationship that exists between Black women and men, poverty and classism. And while these things do feel universal to Black women and femmes, I truly believe that this was Bowen's love letter to those that grow up in the hood. These are the individuals that are often left out of mainstream conversations even when the intersectionality of race and gender is at the forefront of the conversation. One of the things that stood out to me about this social commentary/memoir is Bowen's emphasis on the fact that people need to refrain from trying to change people from the hood. There is this weird need (even within the Black community) to change people from the hood and make them into the Black people that society deems worthy. This isn't a book that is about a Black woman or Black femme going through self-actualization. There are so many stories that already focus on this that it's a breath of fresh air for Bowen to give us a story in which someone is already comfortable in their Blackness. Honestly, this is one my favorite non-fiction books and one of my favorite books of the year. The rawness of it, the comfortable use of AAVE resonated with me in unimaginable ways. If you haven't had the chance to pick this up, I highly recommend reading it and listening to it on audio.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jess Owens

    Thank you to Harper Audio for an advanced copy of this book. I don't rate memoirs but I really loved this one. The audio is narrated by the author and it is amazing. I totally missed the subtitle of "Notes from a Trap Feminist" and so at the start, I was a little thrown off but quickly realized what this was about and how it would be going forward. This is obviously a memoir, this is about her Sesali's life but through her storytelling she explains what it means to be a trap feminist. Trap femin Thank you to Harper Audio for an advanced copy of this book. I don't rate memoirs but I really loved this one. The audio is narrated by the author and it is amazing. I totally missed the subtitle of "Notes from a Trap Feminist" and so at the start, I was a little thrown off but quickly realized what this was about and how it would be going forward. This is obviously a memoir, this is about her Sesali's life but through her storytelling she explains what it means to be a trap feminist. Trap feminism (to quote from the book): "calls on Black women to be aggressively self-interested as a means of self-determination." Sesali talks about life experiences that she's gone through where her decisions weren't hers, she wasn't in control, she didn't have a say and how that was the foundation for the person she is today. I did not grow up in the hood, but there were still similar experiences we shared as Black women who grew up in America. I loved how raw and honest this was, especially with the use of AAVE. So much of this book had me going "amen" and "preach" because she was taking us to church and making several points about the negativity and toxicity that can exist in the Black community. I think a lot of Black women/femmes millennials who grew up in America can really relate to Sesali's story and I'm glad she was able to express herself in an organic way because I don't think the story would hit as hard if it was changed to be more "mainstream". I don't know what else to say, if you want to hear from a Black trap feminist, read this book!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Crystal

    There are so far nine one star reviews for this book, all by accounts with no photos or other books listed. I know Goodreads won't do anything about it, so I'm adding a a 5 star review to counterbalance what seems to be some kind of personal agenda here. People are jerks. Also, the cover art is delightful. There are so far nine one star reviews for this book, all by accounts with no photos or other books listed. I know Goodreads won't do anything about it, so I'm adding a a 5 star review to counterbalance what seems to be some kind of personal agenda here. People are jerks. Also, the cover art is delightful.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    Wonderful and thought-provoking. If you want to challenge your ideas of what it means to be a feminist, particularly if you are steeped in white feminism that lacks intersectionality, I would recommend reading Bad Fat Black Girl in conjunction with Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall. They tackle similar topics but this book is a memoir heavily laced with feminist theory while Hood Feminism is a book about theory and policy implications, heavily laced with anecdotes. I think they dovetail nicely and r Wonderful and thought-provoking. If you want to challenge your ideas of what it means to be a feminist, particularly if you are steeped in white feminism that lacks intersectionality, I would recommend reading Bad Fat Black Girl in conjunction with Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall. They tackle similar topics but this book is a memoir heavily laced with feminist theory while Hood Feminism is a book about theory and policy implications, heavily laced with anecdotes. I think they dovetail nicely and really problematize feminisms that are rooted in the privilege of being white and wealthy, vilifying sex work, focusing on the "glass ceiling" of a few rather than on providing protection, justice, and equity to all women. Bad Fat Black Girl also does a great job of discussing fatphobia and anti-fat bias. In this case as it is situated primarily within the Black community, but this is something that extends more broadly as well. It is a book about the experiences of Black girls and women growing up in predominately Black communities, telling stories that are often undervalued and brushed aside. This is a book that might make some readers uncomfortable, but I don't think that's a bad thing. The author unabashedly shares her life and celebrates the love she has for herself and the people in her life. She talks about being queer and polyamorous, having healthy boundaries in a relationship, and why friendship is so important. There's a lot here and it's worth a read. She reads the audiobook herself and I definitely recommend the experience. I received an audio copy of this book for review from Libro.FM. All opinions are my own.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    "Black women's greatest strength is that we are always more than what everyone says we are, and we've never been afraid to put people on notice about it..." Sesali Bowen grabbed me from the Dedication and did not let go! In Bad Fat Black Girl: Notes from a Trap Feminst, Ms. Bowen defines trap feminism and what it means to be a trap feminist. During the height of the Me-Too movement and what seemed to be a re-emergence of the feminist movement, I felt like an outsider because I did not display the "Black women's greatest strength is that we are always more than what everyone says we are, and we've never been afraid to put people on notice about it..." Sesali Bowen grabbed me from the Dedication and did not let go! In Bad Fat Black Girl: Notes from a Trap Feminst, Ms. Bowen defines trap feminism and what it means to be a trap feminist. During the height of the Me-Too movement and what seemed to be a re-emergence of the feminist movement, I felt like an outsider because I did not display the same "down with patriarchy" passion the way every woman that was labeled a feminist did. I love trap music despite the misogyny it glorifies and I'm not going to justify that. Sesali's teachings are punctuated with lyrics from trap songs that compliment the beautiful portrait of her trap feminist manifesto. She is speaking to me and I'm sure many others like me. If my being a Bad Fat Black Girl with the nerve to be happy offends, excuse me while I turn up my trap music and dance on your feelings. PS: For those unfamiliar with trap music, I recommend listening to the songs and artists referenced in the book for a pretty solid introduction.

  6. 4 out of 5

    The CurvyJones

    I am not much for non fiction (I like my books to be the made-up variety) but something about this cover and blurb appealed to me. Am happy I picked up this engaging, entertaining, educational and fun rom through Sesali's youth, discovering herself and her sexuality, unpacking her relationships and how they affect the woman she has become, all tied into how hip hop talks about women and influences how we think about feminism and what it means to be us. A good read-- something I'd go back and rea I am not much for non fiction (I like my books to be the made-up variety) but something about this cover and blurb appealed to me. Am happy I picked up this engaging, entertaining, educational and fun rom through Sesali's youth, discovering herself and her sexuality, unpacking her relationships and how they affect the woman she has become, all tied into how hip hop talks about women and influences how we think about feminism and what it means to be us. A good read-- something I'd go back and read and note and contemplate if I was big into nonfiction. Since I am not, I will let the intellectuals take over and dissect the text and suffice it to say that I enjoyed this memoir and text on Trap Feminism (although I am unhip so I have never heard most of the songs referenced. Off to spotify!)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Oyinda

    Book 323 of 2021 Many thanks to Libro FM and Harper Audio for my ALC This is such an authentic and raw book where the author bares as much as she can and then some. It's a book about a different type of feminism, one that white feminists and even upper class black feminists turn their noses up against - trap feminism. It's also part memoir because the author infuses so much from her own life into this book. It's also part pop culture commentary, as the author explores females in rap/trap and how t Book 323 of 2021 Many thanks to Libro FM and Harper Audio for my ALC This is such an authentic and raw book where the author bares as much as she can and then some. It's a book about a different type of feminism, one that white feminists and even upper class black feminists turn their noses up against - trap feminism. It's also part memoir because the author infuses so much from her own life into this book. It's also part pop culture commentary, as the author explores females in rap/trap and how their lyrics empowered her and empower us. This book also delves into sex works and rights for sex workers as well as hierarchies within the sex work world, as the author is a former sex worker herself. The audiobook narration, done by the author, was gold. I had a great time listening to this. Financial independence is a huge part of this book, and I love how much the author infused parts of her own life and struggles with money into this book. This was a great read and I highly recommend it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Gina Malanga

    I grew up listening to female rappers, I could and still can rap every word on Lil’ Kim’s Hard Core album. That album made me feel like a bad ass, as did Queen Latifa, Salt n’ Pepa, Foxy Brown and Eve to name a very few. These women made their listeners feel powerful and in charge. this generation had Nicki Minaj, Meg Thee Stallio and Cardi B to name a few and then it message is still the same. But we’re do late rappers fall, especially in the genre of trap music. Enter Sesali Bowen and “Trap Fe I grew up listening to female rappers, I could and still can rap every word on Lil’ Kim’s Hard Core album. That album made me feel like a bad ass, as did Queen Latifa, Salt n’ Pepa, Foxy Brown and Eve to name a very few. These women made their listeners feel powerful and in charge. this generation had Nicki Minaj, Meg Thee Stallio and Cardi B to name a few and then it message is still the same. But we’re do late rappers fall, especially in the genre of trap music. Enter Sesali Bowen and “Trap Feminism” and her examination of fat phobia, sexism and the world of hip hop through her own lens. I loved this book and the authors unique voice and perspective. A great read for anyone who loves hip-hop but sometimes conflicted by it and the world it represents.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    Listening to this book was one of the best decisions I’ve made. Although I probably could have physically read this book quickly, listening to the author read her own work was quite amazing. After having read Feminist AF by the Crunk Collective, who’s backdrop of feminism is against 90s hip-hop, Sesali Bowen went in a similar direction, but towards trap music as her backdrop, which presents a whole ‘nother experience if you are familiar with trap music. Hearing the author read her words and hear Listening to this book was one of the best decisions I’ve made. Although I probably could have physically read this book quickly, listening to the author read her own work was quite amazing. After having read Feminist AF by the Crunk Collective, who’s backdrop of feminism is against 90s hip-hop, Sesali Bowen went in a similar direction, but towards trap music as her backdrop, which presents a whole ‘nother experience if you are familiar with trap music. Hearing the author read her words and hearing her voice, tone, inflection, emphasis, etc., really brought this book to life for me and I was instantly able to connect with the content of her book in a wide open way. Especially seeing that I grew up in the hiphop and trap music era, surrounded by the Black American ghetto of Cleveland, OH. 
Although Sesali Bowen focuses on being fat and Black while growing up under the backdrop of hiphop and trap music, Black women can especially relate to her and how our bodies are constantly policed and criticized for any and everything. Bowen also explores sex work, feminism, Black queerness, classism, sexism, violence towards Black women, and how gender and race play a huge part in how society views Black women who are not the picture of perfection. I feel like this book is a love letter to Fat Black Badass Black women who can easily identify with Bowen, but also Black women who are not necessarily seen as “fat,” but the misogynoir that is directed towards Black women, I feel like we can all relate to. This is a love letter to all of us who grew up in the hood, who had to focus on survival vs being privileged enough to not have the same or similar issues with socioeconomic issues that people in the hood have to deal with. Although Black people are not a monolith, I feel like we’ve all had similar experiences because we’ve all been forced into certain spaces and experiences because of our race, gender, socioeconomic status and education level. Another thing I related to with Bowen’s work was her ability to meet us all where we are, but has space for people to be who they are whether highly educated or struggling to make ends meet. Just because you came from the hood, doesn’t mean that you can’t politick and are not educated or have no skill set. We should be able to be who we are without policing our bodies, the way we speak and talk to others, the way we move through situations and handle our finances, and handle societal pressures with dignity and be proud of where you come from and your experiences that shaped and molded you to who you are today. Bowen talks about trap music in detail and the lyrics that is diametrically opposed to certain issues within feminism. For example, how we can be called ‘bitches and hoes,’ in the music, but not be an actual bitch or hoe and still love the music, still love the attention men/people give you, or actually love being the ‘bitch or hoe’ and being successful in selling yourselves in order to get what we need to get. “We do what we have to, when we can’t do what we want to.” She also proclaims that she is ‘with all the shits and not one to try,” and I love that! Bowen’s work makes me feel aggressively self-determined, and I’m so glad her voice is here to give us another perspective of feminism that is focused on Black women/femmes who has been left out of conversations because they don’t fit the ideal picture of what the society feels is the norm. I am a trap feminist. I’m with all the shits and not one to try! Though I may be highly educated, I’m still from the hood and can come with it if tried on any given day. That is the magic about us, and especially Black women who are the most educated people in this world. We have to navigate so many spaces and places that we need this perspective to feel seen, heard, and acknowledged because though we may nod and pop our fingers to Megan Thee Stallion’s music, but we can also push our dissertations and handle job interviews, all while code-switching (or not), and check a bitch if necessary when we need to. This book says to me: “Bitch, I gotchu!” Which is used as a term of endearment and a declaration of solidarity, all while processing how those words are often used to demean and belittle us, but can also be seen as a term of friendship, solidarity, and familiarity. I loved it! 5 stars!

  10. 4 out of 5

    April Lashbrook

    In Bad Fat Black Girl: Notes from a Trap Feminist, Sesali Bowen (coming October 5, 2021) combines memoir and feminist cultural analysis seamlessly. Bowen centers her own fat Black queer experience, as a memoirist should, and she includes definitions to make her writing accessible to people not familiar with Black culture, and more specifically, trap culture. I challenge white feminists to read it and learn. We gain understanding when we read (and therefore inhabit) the perspective of people who In Bad Fat Black Girl: Notes from a Trap Feminist, Sesali Bowen (coming October 5, 2021) combines memoir and feminist cultural analysis seamlessly. Bowen centers her own fat Black queer experience, as a memoirist should, and she includes definitions to make her writing accessible to people not familiar with Black culture, and more specifically, trap culture. I challenge white feminists to read it and learn. We gain understanding when we read (and therefore inhabit) the perspective of people who don’t have the same life experiences we have. Thankfully, Bowen explains trap music and how it fits into the broader genre of hip-hop and defines “trap feminism” at the beginning of the book, centering Black women and female rappers. Generally, the book follows her life experience of growing up fat and broke on the South Side of Chicago and is organized around a different theme in each chapter–from being fat, fighting, and money, to sex, relationships, and the importance of friendships. Bowen describes how she is fat, and I felt like she was describing me with her detailed description of her specific body shape of being bigger on top and through the waist, with smaller legs–and how it’s sometimes described as being “built bad.” She acknowledges that generally Black people “have a higher tolerance for body fat on feminine bodies than other groups do” but that acceptance has to do more with body shape than size — being hourglass or pear-shaped with a flat stomach is celebrated regardless of size, but fat girls shaped like her are rejected and disrespected. She analyzes the concept of beauty as a cultural standard that maintains capitalist, white supremacist patriarchy and how fitting none of the standards–essentially having lesser value and little of the privilege “beauty” brings–has shown up in the culture and in her life. It’s brilliant and astute and the best description of being the “wrong” kind of fat in any of the fat-positive books I’ve read. (And I’ve been trying to be fat-positive almost as long as Bowen has been alive.) The chapters on sexuality–her experiences with straight sex, starting young but at her choice, as a professional sex worker, and how she came to labeling herself as “queer” are honest and raw and free of shame. Her rules on relationships are rules I wish had been written years ago–she is so wise for someone still in her 30s. I highly recommend Bad Fat Black Girl to anyone who wants to understand more about black feminism; fatness and anti-fat bias; gender and sexuality politics; and hip-hop culture in general. I look forward to much more from Sesali Bowen. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Audrey

    This book made me feel seen and I couldn’t be more appreciative of that

  12. 5 out of 5

    Never Without a Book

    GET THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Misse Jones

    Trap feminism says that Black girls who have ever rocked bamboo earrings, dookie braids, Baby Phat, lace fronts, or those who have worked as hoes, scammers, call-center reps, at day cares, in retail, and those who sell waist trainers and mink lashes on Instagram are all worth the same dignity and respect we give Michelle Obama and Beyoncé. I applaud Sesali Bowen for writing the book that’s needed. So often we see the same stories regurgitated, so it is nice to see focus placed here on topics that Trap feminism says that Black girls who have ever rocked bamboo earrings, dookie braids, Baby Phat, lace fronts, or those who have worked as hoes, scammers, call-center reps, at day cares, in retail, and those who sell waist trainers and mink lashes on Instagram are all worth the same dignity and respect we give Michelle Obama and Beyoncé. I applaud Sesali Bowen for writing the book that’s needed. So often we see the same stories regurgitated, so it is nice to see focus placed here on topics that are often spoke from a narrow male perspective. Representation matters. BAD FAT BLACK GIRL reads like a much-needed conversation with your bestie after you haven’t seen one another in awhile. It is entertaining and REAL and even laugh out loud funny in some instances. I loved the song and book/article references throughout the book. I thought they worked really well as supporting evidence and that they also evoked past memories of good times. There was a part nearly mid way though the book that dragged a bit for me. I think the tone shifted from “ok so boom” juicy storytelling to the classic self-help call to action and general recommendations. Overall, with colorful chapters like: ”Run Me My Money,” “Knuckin’, Buckin’, Ready To Fight”, and “Not Straight” it is safe to say that there is something in this memoir for everyone! Thank you to NetGalley and Amistad Books for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Shernell

    Outstanding!!!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Francis M. Torres

    I am so happy that every memoir I have been requesting from Netgalley has been AWESOME! This book touched my HEART, this author is amazing, I commend her for talking about everything that she went through, sometimes I caught myself from crying because I couldn’t believe in and in most parts I was laughing so hard, Sesali gives you her 411 on how she did her thing and how she succeeded for HERSELF, not for anyone else. I love the use of lyrics from artists mixed in with the book, and her story. I I am so happy that every memoir I have been requesting from Netgalley has been AWESOME! This book touched my HEART, this author is amazing, I commend her for talking about everything that she went through, sometimes I caught myself from crying because I couldn’t believe in and in most parts I was laughing so hard, Sesali gives you her 411 on how she did her thing and how she succeeded for HERSELF, not for anyone else. I love the use of lyrics from artists mixed in with the book, and her story. I am telling you guys this book is a Memoir-self help, HANDS DOWN! A MUST read! Thanks Netgalley and the publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    M Moore

    Using trap music as a foundation, Bowen gives a new perspective on trap feminism. I enjoyed this book so much! Bowen's sharp observations, wit and straightforward delivery made this book both enjoyable and informative. This is part memoir, part commentary on current culture and the combination is perfect. The narration by the author is excellent! Thanks to Libro.fm and Harper Audio for the gifted audiobook. My reviews can also be seen at www.instagram.com/justonemoorebook. Using trap music as a foundation, Bowen gives a new perspective on trap feminism. I enjoyed this book so much! Bowen's sharp observations, wit and straightforward delivery made this book both enjoyable and informative. This is part memoir, part commentary on current culture and the combination is perfect. The narration by the author is excellent! Thanks to Libro.fm and Harper Audio for the gifted audiobook. My reviews can also be seen at www.instagram.com/justonemoorebook.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Curtin

    Wow! Loved the audio and could definitely see myself reading again

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. (via Netgalley) 4.5 stars. I enjoyed the author's writing and how they struck a balance between highlighting/explaining important issues and including their personality and humor in it. Definitely worth a read. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. (via Netgalley) 4.5 stars. I enjoyed the author's writing and how they struck a balance between highlighting/explaining important issues and including their personality and humor in it. Definitely worth a read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Books And Briefcase

    Give Sesali Bowen everything!! I found myself laughing, crying, raging, and cheering at various moments throughout this book. I can’t wait for it to be released to buy copies for dear friends. This bad fat black girl is here to stay, and thank god for it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Shareca

    Bad Fat Black Girl by Sesali Bowen is fantastic. The characters, the prose, the overall narrative of the novel is fantastic. I thought the representation was a high point of this. I think the inclusion of music was the best part about this. I went into this blind, for the most part, and enjoyed every second of it. I think the concept of "trap feminism" defines this novel as a whole. Bad Fat Black Girl by Sesali Bowen is fantastic. The characters, the prose, the overall narrative of the novel is fantastic. I thought the representation was a high point of this. I think the inclusion of music was the best part about this. I went into this blind, for the most part, and enjoyed every second of it. I think the concept of "trap feminism" defines this novel as a whole.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jodee

    Thank you to NetGalley, Amistad and Sesali Brown for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review. I picked this book initially because of the cover and the description. I am not normally one who read non-fiction but I step out on a limb and read this. I was not disappointed. The unique philosophy of trap feminism made it easy for me to stay emotionally invested. This story is told from a vulnerable and raw place, and is mixed with a philosophy of trap feminism which made it Thank you to NetGalley, Amistad and Sesali Brown for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review. I picked this book initially because of the cover and the description. I am not normally one who read non-fiction but I step out on a limb and read this. I was not disappointed. The unique philosophy of trap feminism made it easy for me to stay emotionally invested. This story is told from a vulnerable and raw place, and is mixed with a philosophy of trap feminism which made it easy for me to get emotionally invested and stay engaged. The song lyrics humor and the explanation of the black language were creative and greatly appreciated. This is definitely a book that should be read by all.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kelsi Pilcher

    I truly enjoyed the premise of this book. I typically avoid non fiction but the title and cover alone sold me and I was not disappointed! The raw and vulnerable storytelling mixed with the unique philosophy of trap feminism kept me emotionally invested and intellectually engaged. The humor of the song lyrics and explanations of our (Black) vernacular were creative and appreciated. If you are looking to grow and experience a different perspective or resonate with shared experiences, I encourage e I truly enjoyed the premise of this book. I typically avoid non fiction but the title and cover alone sold me and I was not disappointed! The raw and vulnerable storytelling mixed with the unique philosophy of trap feminism kept me emotionally invested and intellectually engaged. The humor of the song lyrics and explanations of our (Black) vernacular were creative and appreciated. If you are looking to grow and experience a different perspective or resonate with shared experiences, I encourage every women and man to read this book; you will find aspects that you can relate to and hopefully question your own biases.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    First, this is an amazing book that becomes very, very readable after the introduction. Many terms and concepts not familiar to those of us with different backgrounds are beautifully defined, which is one of my favorite parts of the book. In fairness, if you know what trap music is, which I did not, the introduction makes tons of sense. (Nope, not about "The Sound of Music" and the Von Trapp family) It was worth it to reread the introduction after finishing the book but no matter what, do NOT le First, this is an amazing book that becomes very, very readable after the introduction. Many terms and concepts not familiar to those of us with different backgrounds are beautifully defined, which is one of my favorite parts of the book. In fairness, if you know what trap music is, which I did not, the introduction makes tons of sense. (Nope, not about "The Sound of Music" and the Von Trapp family) It was worth it to reread the introduction after finishing the book but no matter what, do NOT let the introduction stop you from reading this book.. Bad Fat Black Girl is part memoir-- totally engaging-- and, in my opinion and experience of it, it is part self-help book, useful and somewhat universal in its perspectives. In deciding how to review this book, I kept thinking about me, me, me. Because I'm an unlikely audience for this book. It felt very narcissistic of me to want to explain why I chose to read this and yet, this desire continued in the brain of this privileged, sixty-something, white, cisgender, female "progressive." And then I saw Bowen's epilogue about a publisher who rejected "Bad Fat Black Girl" because the audience would not be broad enough. "Her feedback was that women who were older, more settled into professional lives, or even those who didn't have ties to the hood wouldn't be able to relate. For her, trap feminism was something that only young, ratchet Black girls could relate to." For over sixty years, I thought I was "all that: with my long-standing civill rights, activism thanks largely to my activist mother and my various jobs involving enforcement of discrimination laws. In fact, I needed and need way more education and understanding and (might not sound like it so far) way more humility. So, when I find the description of a book by a Black author (fiction or nonfiction) interesting and its initial reviews look good, and and if the book offers me a chance to get further down this road of understanding, I read it. First, this is a book about the experiences of a Black girl, now a Black woman, who was sexually active with older men at a very young age, who grew up on the South Side of Chicago with very little money, but with more of a safety net than many of her contemporaries because of her grandmother and relatives in the suburbs as well as the fact her mother worked for many years in an ob gyn office in the community. Bowen's relationship with her mother is difficult, in part because of common themes she identifies in Black parenting in her community, an authoritarian approach to raising children with no room for questions. Also, her mother struggled with addiction for many years leaving their living situation unstable and chaotic. She loves trap music, a subgenre of rap originating in Atlanta in the 1990s/early 2000s that mostly involved lyrics that were misogynistic and objectified women. As Bowen evolved and became more introspective about herself, her life and her studies, she needed to revisit this love and figure out whether she wanted to stay true to trap. She listened with a new ear and decided, fairly in my understanding of all this, that in many of the songs, the women at issue have agency. There is power in being the man's object of desire and the women make decisions about where they choose to be and how they choose to act. Thus, the origin of "trap feminism." Agency. Living authentically. There are gems throughout this book. , I mentioned it on my Facebook page as I dwelt on how to describe it to a "broad" audience.... I quoted " 'Friendship is one of the purest forms of love precisely because you love your friends voluntarily.' From a book that likely would shock you but I'm thinking about a lot. "Bad Fat Black Girl: Notes from a Trap Feminist" by Sesali Bowen. This small segment of a relationships chapter includes that Bowen won't get intimately involved with anyone who doesn't have friends. Wise, wise-ass, full of choices and perspectives that are totally jarring even to those of us who think we are fairly unconventional." So yes, this book will speak immediately to people already further down the road with a broad view of sex and sexuality and Black experience in the world generally. And, after some of us draw back for a moment, Bowen's choices and perspectives make sense and we are more educated about sex and sexuality and Black experience in the world generally. Bad Fat Black Girl sent me to the internet to watch trap videos, read trap lyrics, particularly those Bowen cites, and to listen to a podcast interview of Bowen on her book and her trap feminist theory. There is no middle ground here. But there is plenty to think about with an open mind. Bowen writes a lot about gender fluidity, identifying as "queer." (I believe she uses female pronouns, since she adores looking good and calling herself femme, so don't fault me there folks!) She writes about sexuality and sexual behavior and her own background as a sex worker. Bowen eventually went to college, stumbling a bit but getting through in part because of opportunities she found through a mentor and her own talent for writing and inspiring people. What I get from this immersion into her book, trap music, her Instagram and interview is respect for this woman who can explain so well the things we do not know and remove stereotypes, while defining the influences on her life and her philosophy thus far of how to be who she wants and needs to be --- without apology.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bibliomystic

    Sesali Bowen's memoir/treatise on trap feminism is a captivating and insightful book, especially for readers who didn't grow up in this culture. I learned a lot and had fun reading it! Sesali Bowen's memoir/treatise on trap feminism is a captivating and insightful book, especially for readers who didn't grow up in this culture. I learned a lot and had fun reading it!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cookie

    Writer/blogger/feminist Sesali Bowen discusses her idea of trap feminism in this nonfiction book. She uses the term "trap" in this book to mean the language, culture, and ideologies of young people in the hood. Touching upon many related subjects related to feminism, including body image, beauty and sexuality, Bowen provides a feminist perspective from a woman from the hood that is not always highlighted in mainstream culture. While discussing these ideas, Bowen shares her personal experiences t Writer/blogger/feminist Sesali Bowen discusses her idea of trap feminism in this nonfiction book. She uses the term "trap" in this book to mean the language, culture, and ideologies of young people in the hood. Touching upon many related subjects related to feminism, including body image, beauty and sexuality, Bowen provides a feminist perspective from a woman from the hood that is not always highlighted in mainstream culture. While discussing these ideas, Bowen shares her personal experiences that have helped shape her thoughts. This is a perspective on feminism that I hadn't known about before I listened to this book. I know that feminism is splintered into many different perspectives within the cause, but this is not one I had thought about before. What I liked about this book is that Bowen takes the time to break down many parts of trap culture while integrating it into her feminist thoughts. She also provides explanations of terms and phrases used in the hood and in feminism that I didn't know of before. All of it was very thought provoking and I feel like I learned a lot from this book. I love Bowen's unapologetic views on sexuality. Women are conditioned to think that if we have a voracious sexual appetite or if we have casual sex, it's something to hide or be ashamed of. Bowen emphasizes the need to get rid of this type of thinking, and expands on it by sharing about her time as a consensual sex worker. I found this part of the book particularly fascinating because I share some of the same views she does and I wanted to hear more about the challenges sex workers face. My favorite take away from this book was when she spoke of having standards and sticking to them. An important part of becoming successful and happy is making sure you set standards for yourself and not allowing others to force you to waver from them. Don't feel guilty for wanting what you want, how you want it! I listened to this book and I highly recommend the audiobook. It's narrated by Bowen herself and it's always a plus for me to hear a writer read their own work for the audiobook. ⚠️: sexual assault, racism, body shaming Thank you to Harper Audio and libro.fm for a free ALC and to Amistad and NetGalley for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.

  26. 4 out of 5

    LiteraryMarie

    Sesali Bowen is the self-proclaimed trap feminist. The funny fearless entertainment journalist grew up on the south side of Chicago and learned early on how to hustle, champion other Black women and navigate fat phobia, poverty, friendship and self-love. Her love of trap music led her to hip hop journalism where she soon found the balance between feminism and hip hop. Bowen treats us to personal essays in this debut memoir titled Bad Fat Black Girl: Notes from a Trap Feminist. The cover is very e Sesali Bowen is the self-proclaimed trap feminist. The funny fearless entertainment journalist grew up on the south side of Chicago and learned early on how to hustle, champion other Black women and navigate fat phobia, poverty, friendship and self-love. Her love of trap music led her to hip hop journalism where she soon found the balance between feminism and hip hop. Bowen treats us to personal essays in this debut memoir titled Bad Fat Black Girl: Notes from a Trap Feminist. The cover is very eye-catching and matches the content. She shares how trap music lyrics often conflicts with her support of Black women and being a feminist. Phrases like "bad bitches" and "top notch hoes" float across tracks that she may sing along to but not necessarily overlook. Neither does it diminish her confidence or own identity. "When people joke that 'Knuck If You Buck' is an old Negro spiritual, they're referencing the surge of emotion and adrenaline Black folks feel when it comes on." ~ 31% I can certainly relate. I can rap along to a lot of songs and still be able to disconnect myself from the women described in lyrics. I know my worth. I know what I am and what I am not. I am one of the most polite people you will ever meet but will still rhyme Diamond's verse word-for-word like I'm a fighter. I still advocate for women's rights but you can't tell me I'm not the Susie that Gucci thinks he loves. And Bowen totally understands and translates this well! Bad Fat Black Girl will probably be dissected by scholars or music critics. I found it to be an agreeable, entertaining read and recommend for others. You don't have to like trap music to enjoy but it will definitely enhance your reading experience of this new memoir. ~LiteraryMarie

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sophia

    Bad Fat Black Girl: Notes from a Trap Feminist by Sesali Bowen Published October 5, 2021 ~I appreciated some of the social and gender issues addressed but the crassness was way too much for my ears.~ From funny and fearless entertainment journalist Sesali Bowen, Bad Fat Black Girl combines rule-breaking feminist theory, witty and insightful personal memoir, and cutting cultural analysis for an unforgettable, genre-defining debut. Growing up on the south side of Chicago, Sesali Bowen learned early on Bad Fat Black Girl: Notes from a Trap Feminist by Sesali Bowen Published October 5, 2021 ~I appreciated some of the social and gender issues addressed but the crassness was way too much for my ears.~ From funny and fearless entertainment journalist Sesali Bowen, Bad Fat Black Girl combines rule-breaking feminist theory, witty and insightful personal memoir, and cutting cultural analysis for an unforgettable, genre-defining debut. Growing up on the south side of Chicago, Sesali Bowen learned early on how to hustle, stay on her toes, and champion other Black women and femmes as she navigated Blackness, queerness, fatness, friendship, poverty, sex work, and self-love. Her love of trap music led her to the top of hip-hop journalism, profiling game-changing artists like Megan Thee Stallion, Lizzo, and Janelle Monae. But despite all the beauty, complexity, and general badassery she saw, Bowen found none of that nuance represented in mainstream feminism. Thus, she coined Trap Feminism, a contemporary framework that interrogates where feminism meets today's hip-hop. Bad Fat Black Girl offers a new, inclusive feminism for the modern world. Weaving together searing personal essay and cultural commentary, Bowen interrogates sexism, fatphobia, and capitalism all within the context of race and hip-hop. In the process, she continues a Black feminist legacy of unmatched sheer determination and creative resilience. Bad bitches: this one's for you.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bruin Mccon

    Can’t remember how I heard about this book but wish I could go back and thank the source. I’m not the target audience but this book is so GD relatable in a way that almost doesn’t make sense. Such a great read with so many valuable lessons. I listened to it on audiobook which is why my review isn’t half the book reproduced via quote. The long and short of it is this memoir/book of related essays is about trap music and how the author feels it created in her a unique brand of feminism that works f Can’t remember how I heard about this book but wish I could go back and thank the source. I’m not the target audience but this book is so GD relatable in a way that almost doesn’t make sense. Such a great read with so many valuable lessons. I listened to it on audiobook which is why my review isn’t half the book reproduced via quote. The long and short of it is this memoir/book of related essays is about trap music and how the author feels it created in her a unique brand of feminism that works for her life. One, goes without saying (and yet, I’m saying it): Feminism is enormously complicated as a cause for many women. Two, the main reason the author felt feminism on its own didn’t work for her is her experience with victim blaming. This is especially true in Black culture according to the author, when girls’ bodies develop and society sexualizes them. We’ve all heard this, and I’ve recently read at least one other book about the term “fast” as applied to Black girls. In particular, calling girls fast when it is grown men inappropriately seeing them as sex objects. This is clearly a form of victim blaming. The author saw this reflected in her own life after adolescence with the idea that there is something inherently wrong with being into boning for the act itself (only for women, c.f., he’s a stud, she’s a [email protected]). This is why the book is relatable. Why can’t people just live and let live? I don’t know but this author has some great theories that really made me think.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Christine Gomez

    “Even an artsy chick who’s into crystals and meditation can like to shake her ass” Bad Fat Black Girl by Sesali Bowen was one of those books I knew I would be great, yet I still completely underestimated how deeply it would resonate with me. I hugely identified with Bowen’s points around rap music and female rappers. As a Black woman who loves rap, I’ve also struggled to find a way to properly articulate the nuance of loving a genre that can be hyper-sexual and misogynistic. Bowen did a brilliant “Even an artsy chick who’s into crystals and meditation can like to shake her ass” Bad Fat Black Girl by Sesali Bowen was one of those books I knew I would be great, yet I still completely underestimated how deeply it would resonate with me. I hugely identified with Bowen’s points around rap music and female rappers. As a Black woman who loves rap, I’ve also struggled to find a way to properly articulate the nuance of loving a genre that can be hyper-sexual and misogynistic. Bowen did a brilliant job of explaining the duality and empowerment that comes from female rap. This book was the reminder I needed that women, Black women especially, are allowed and deserve duality. I can be a mom, an academic, and a therapist. I can be all that and love trap rap, cannabis, and shaking my ass too. This book is absolutely required reading if you identify as a feminist. Bowen offers commentary on the experience of Black women in America, specifically Black women that are too often overlooked or seen as too “hood” for mainstream feminists to uplift. I loved that this book centered discussions about fatphobia, sex work, trans women, and queerness. It was insightful, funny, and humanizing. Hands down, one of my favorite and most valuable non fiction reads so far this year. Thank you @netgalley for allowing me to read this in advance. I will for sure be purchasing a physical copy to annotate.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Weekend Reader_

    I think if you liked Hood Feminism you might enjoy this book. I didn't always see or agree with the connections Bowen made but she made a compelling argument for a trap feminist framework. I think what was done really well was the integration of Black feminist and the critique of so many women continue to be left out of larger conversations about dominance, exploitation, and violence. She really gives voice to how pervasive anti-blackness is rooted in isolating and erasing black bodies for one r I think if you liked Hood Feminism you might enjoy this book. I didn't always see or agree with the connections Bowen made but she made a compelling argument for a trap feminist framework. I think what was done really well was the integration of Black feminist and the critique of so many women continue to be left out of larger conversations about dominance, exploitation, and violence. She really gives voice to how pervasive anti-blackness is rooted in isolating and erasing black bodies for one reason or the other. There's a lot to unpack and you must be open to your own biases as you this work. I particularly loved in the epilogue where she stated her work is not for broader appeal/consumption. Yeah you might be uncomfortable if you're open for direct language and connecting some of the arguments back to trap music. I thought it was funny she explained some of the terminology but it's a nod to people who might now know. Thank you to Amistad Publishing and HarperCollins for providing a libro.fm credit in exchange for an honest review.

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