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CAN WE START & NEVER STOP TALKING ABOUT SAMANTHA IRBY?

March 22, 2019
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Samantha Irby is too booked and busy to be my fairy godmother but her book of essays had me wishing she was my barely functioning-but-will-still-cuss-you-TF-out spirit guide. We all need one to remind us that perfection is goddamn fairytale right up there with having your s*** together all of the time. Life is an emotional rollercoaster and Irby’s words are the perfect depiction of that ride, almost like the picture you get at the end of it. The reality is that, at least, a lot of us are struggling through depression (laced with some anxiety) and at most, we are weighed by illnesses that make that seem like a walk in the park. The reality of survival isn’t pretty and few authors genuinely do the work to embrace that like Irby does.

Irby is a comedian, blogger, TV writer, essayist and New York Times best-selling author whose “no frills” style to the written word and guerilla-comedy style marketing antics have made her a low-key (but high-key with the memes) internet sensation. Irby was first introduced on Al Gore’s internet with her hit blog Bitches Gotta Eat, which has the right amount of “softcore and despair” to make me feel seen. Meaty (2013) is Irby’s first published book of essays which just went through re-issue, prompting the author to mastermind a meme-tastic guerilla marketing campaign where she had friends Photoshop the cover of the book into pictures of various celebrities holding books.

Irby went on to write her second book of poems called We Are Never Meeting In Real Life (2017) which earned her a place on the New York Times Bestseller list as well as the less-coveted place in our hearts. New Year, Same Trash: Resolutions I Absolutely Did Not Keep (2017) is the comedian’s 3rd collection of essays exploring what I’m sure you can gather is her declaration that “resolutions” should refer solely to TV quality and change is for the weather. The third installment in Irby’s trilogy of living, laughing and not giving a fuck further entrench revolutionary praxis for Black women, in that our mere unapologetic existence is political and downright revolutionary.

From Meaty:

“I don’t know, man. I’m just not big on spending every waking minute with someone you show your privates to. People are boring. I’m fucking boring. My funny runs out; my cute runs out; my smart sometimes hiccups; my sexy wakes up with uncontrollable diarrhea. I have a fucking attitude. And a sharp, nasty edge. I’m impatient. I like the whole fucking bed. I hate anyone touching and moving my artfully disheveled possessions all the time. I’m a downright terrible sharer, and I can’t guarantee that I won’t write my name on something in the refrigerator I don’t want you to eat.” 

The Black, queer, plus-size woman of color’s mere untampered existence in the world is already a form of resistance and Irby’s depiction of that spectrum etches out a place in the literary landscape that has been notoriously strictly hetero and white as rice. Irby is currently married to a woman while her writing details the shenanigans related to dating the straight men of her previous romantic escapades. Irby is forthright — because, when is she not? — about the fact that men are trash and even though her dating life has been filled with men and women, men find a way to leave a lasting and often traumatic impression. “If the men in my life wanted to be written about more favorably, they would have behaved better,” she told Rebellious Magazine.

Because mental illness and the discussions around it have only begun to become a norm in the Black community, the descriptions relating to it are often sanitized. It wasn’t until I read Irby go into detail about the raw reality of living with mental illness, that I knew in my soul that the mess associated with it was just a part of surviving. As a plus-size Black woman myself, I often punished myself for the manifestations of my mental illness, framing the shape of my body as a failure instead of a symptom of my trauma. Even then, I didn’t want to live with the notion that my body was a symptom instead of the mortal coil I traveled in. Irby’s words opened a gateway of understanding that my body can be many things at once but it was with me on the bumpy ride that was my own mental illness.

From Serial Optimist

“I understand that my mental illness and my physical appearance are linked and maybe I should try harder to do something about them but that shit is overwhelming, so maybe the next best thing I can do is try to make peace with my face. I have no advice about how to feel better because I haven’t yet found the formula that works, and you gotta put the oxygen mask on yourself before you try to help anybody else.”  

Irby’s words allow for more than the affirmation of the “imperfect woman” — she unintentionally provides a space to say “F*** perfection! My womanity is more than the boxes it ticks on patriarchy’s checklist!” She imbues that energy in everything she delivers, especially in the episode she wrote for Hulu’s Shrill where SNL heavyweight Aidy Bryant attends a pool party where rolls, folds and fat bodies frolicked in their bathing-suit-clad glory. “Pool” was the embodiment wonder and latent fear embedded in fat girls witnessing other fat girls behave in a way that anyone else would call radical. It was a 24-minute version of that feeling I got when I saw a fat girl killing it in a bikini, prompting me to think, “Wait, we can do that now???” It was nirvana, Beyoncé and Oprah’s Favorite Things wrapped into a singular episode of television. I am eternally grateful for it.

The heart of body positivity is the understanding that the world is going to get you however it finds you. That is simply that on that. Irby’s brand of writing is a refreshing reminder that, that particular movement has no business being pretty before honest and transparent because the muck is where we often relate and collectively reside. Samantha Irby deserves to live in a field of her flowers right now, while she continues to plant them. She is more than a breath of fresh air — she is the breath of new life that we all need. Love her accordingly.

 

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god’s plan

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chicago! thursday! come see a real human crying meme! https://m.bpt.me/event/3364764

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i’m coming home! may 3! let’s celebrate! https://m.bpt.me/event/3364764

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“meat shoulda brought ya ass home last night!”

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tonight! kalamazoo! 7p at @bookbugkzoo where you can absolutely buy beers now, which is definitely a vegetable!

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SEE YOU TOMORROW, LA. book soup, 7p.

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