Denise Williams’s “The Fastest Way To Fall” Encourages Fitness Over Aesthetics

May 25, 2023

Reading can be a refuge from reality. Entering a world of make-believe, then finding like-minded people interested in the same fictional universe is priceless. While a book series allows readers the chance to grow with each character, a well-written novel can too. This much is true for “The Fastest Way to Fall”, a brilliantly written, 356-page romance novel by Denise Williams. 

Seldom do I come across books where the Author’s Note precedes the story, but in this instance it was a welcome warning of sorts. “The Fastest Way To Fall” is the story of fat, Black, writer Britta’s professional and personal fitness journey. The storyline, albeit fictional, is deeply personal and triggering at moments. Starting with the Author’s Note eases you into the story and offers the necessary trigger warning. Throughout the story, themes of weight loss vs fitness are highlighted throughout each chapter. 

Size alone does not denote health

It’s important that in society’s attempts to correct itself, we must remember to be balanced. For example, being fat does not suddenly pause every facet of the human experience. It’s fair to say that the social and medical challenges attributed to being fat can create strife and delayed wellness. However, fat people are still going to travel, exercise, dine out, fall in love, and more. While reading “The Fastest Way to Fall”, Denise Williams does a magnificent job of creating a character that is more than her size, but rather a woman living life, who happens to be bigger than societal prescription. 

Fat folks seemingly take the brunt of societal outrage around “wellness” and what is “healthy living”. As someone who grew up old enough to remember what the fashion industry looked like before body positivity movements, I’d like to remind you that healthy bodies are not a monolith. The coffee and cigarette fad diet saw folks in and out of bathrooms while curbing hunger with nicotine. Their designer gowns may have sat elegantly atop their frames, but their lungs were suffering and their teeth yellowing in the process. Yet we haven’t stigmatized that body size because unless someone is openly participating in such a fad diet, we would never know that they aren’t healthy. 

Fat, Black representation in literature

Queer “Fat Femme” yogi Jessamyn Stanley

Queer “Fat Femme” yogi, Jessamyn Stanley

Williams highlights the dangers of disordered eating and eating disorders. Fad diets are dangerous, they do not offer our bodies the nutrition needed to be healthy. Without divulging the plot too much, “The Fastest Way to Fall” warns readers of unscrupulous trainers in the fitness industry and the importance of prioritizing fitness over aesthetics when it comes to our health. 

At the end of the day, there is no physical thing that can make a person love or accept themselves. That is the work of the community and other resources. Books featuring fat women who aren’t excluded from romance, health, and wellness conversations are necessary components to body neutrality and positivity. No matter what a person looks like, they’re allowed to live life and experience happiness. Fat, Black women are just as worthy of a romantic and self-loving human experience as the next person.