In this disarming and candid memoir, cultural critic Clarkisha Kent unpacks the kind of compounded problems you face when you’re a fat, Black, queer woman in a society obsessed with heteronormativity.
There was no easy way for Kent to navigate personal discovery and self-love. As a dark-skinned, first-generation American facing a myriad of mental health issues and intergenerational trauma, at times Kent’s body felt like a cosmic punishment. In the face of body dysmorphia, homophobia, anti-Blackness, and respectability politics, the pursuit of “high self-esteem” seemed oxymoronic.
Fat Off, Fat On: A Big Bitch Manifesto is a humorous, at times tragic, memoir that follows Kent on her journey to realizing that her body is a gift to be grown into, that sometimes family doesn’t always mean home, and how even ill-fated bisexual romances could free her from gender essentialism. Perfect for readers of Keah Brown’s The Pretty One, Alida Nugent’s You Don’t Have to Like Me, and Stephanie Yeboah’s Fattily Ever After, Kent’s debut explores her own lived experiences to illuminate how fatphobia intertwines with other oppressions. It stresses the importance of addressing the violence scored upon our minds and our bodies, and how we might begin the difficult—but joyful—work of setting ourselves free.
“A frank, fierce, and funny memoir and social critique.” —Kirkus
“An Olympian marathon melding humor, rage, pain, in frank, fraught language, all wielded with a fencer’s keen, cutting edge.” —Lavender Magazine
“In her inspiring, no-holds-barred memoir, Clarkisha Kent puts her story out there for all to witness. Her writing is hilarious and intimate, like you’re talking to your best friend over drinks at the bar. Kent’s debut is a celebration of intersectional identity, heralding a bright, essential new voice.” —Gabrielle Union, actress and author of You Got Anything Stronger?
“Fat Off, Fat On: A Big Bitch Manifesto is funny and smart as hell. Kent’s personal story is steeped in an incisive analysis of fatphobia, misogynoir, colorism, racism, sexism, and ableism. As always, listen to Black women, especially Clarkisha Kent.” —Alice Wong, author of Year of the Tiger: An Activist’s Life
“Heartbreaking, honest, and still somehow wryly hilarious, Clarkisha Kent challenges readers in Fat Off, Fat On to not only read about her life but to think about their own. Whether you relate to the pop culture, the family dynamics, or the awkwardness of sex and dating, Kent reaches deep into herself to show her audience a mirror, and in many ways a lifeline, to find the words for their own stories. This is a book you will read and reread as you come to terms with your history and your future.” —Mikki Kendall, author of Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot
“Fat Off, Fat On feels like a revelation in honesty, humor, heart, and craft. I have long been a fan of Clarkisha, and this book solidifies that I will continue to be for many years to come. This book is a must read!” —Keah Brown, creator of #DisabledAndCute and author of The Pretty One
“Clarkisha Kent has long proven herself to be one of the funniest and sharpest voices in new media. But with her debut memoir, she establishes herself as an absolute force of nature. Fat Off, Fat On is full of honesty, wit, and stunning vulnerability that encourages us to reexamine our relationships with our own bodies and how we show up for ourselves.” —Franchesca Ramsey, creator and host of MTV Decoded and author of Well, That Escalated Quickly
“In Fat Off, Fat On, Clarkisha Kent lays it all on the line to bring her moving, emotional, and complicated journey toward self-love to life. Kent’s ability to frame high-level concepts like fatphobia, colorism, anti-Blackness, and family-induced trauma around her personal stories make for a simultaneously entertaining and educational read. This book will help us all confront the negative thoughts we have about ourselves, interrogate how those thoughts manifested in the first place, and give us hope that confronting our personal demons is way better than allowing them to run our lives.” —Leslie Mac, digital strategist and movement auntie
“Fat Off, Fat On is one of the most captivating books I’ve read in a long time. Clarkisha Kent tells her story in such an unapologetic light, and as the reader, I hung on to every word. Clarkisha is a dear friend, and I’m blessed to not just read her truth but to fervently support such a work that I feel everyone should read. We are not deserving of this gift that is this book, but I’m grateful that it exists in this world.” —Vilissa Thompson, LMSW, founder of Ramp Your Voice!
“In her stunning debut memoir, Clarkisha Kent explores the impact of colorism, fatphobia, church trauma, familial abuse, disability, and queerphobia on her journey toward being at home in her body and with herself. Raw, comical, and thoughtful, Fat Off, Fat On is a survival story with a heroine you can’t help but root for.” —Brooke Obie, author of Book of Addis: Cradled Embers
“Screaming, crying, and cackling are just a few of the words I can use to describe what reading Fat Off, Fat On was like. Clarkisha Kent artfully weaves together years of love, loss, joy, and sorrow into a tear-jerking, smile-inducing memoir that perfectly chronicles all the things that make life worth living and leaves you wanting more even as you reach the last page.” —Keshav Kant, executive director of Off Colour
“Clarkisha Kent’s searing humor, intelligence, and vulnerability are imbued within every single page of Fat Off, Fat On.” —Paula Akpan, journalist and historian
“Writers often leave parts of themselves in their pages, but as clues to piece together. In this real-ass memoir, Clarkisha Kent leads you through the puzzle, naming exactly where the pieces do and do not fit, and which ones she’s throwing out. You may be disarmed by her approach to liberation because it’s disarmingly powerful to see someone being wholly themselves—boldly, brilliantly, hilariously, painfully, disturbingly, and everything-in-between-ly. This book is a poignant return to love and a fierce reminder to take up space.” —Jordan Daniels, photographer and storyteller
“Clarkisha Kent’s Fat Off, Fat On is a scintillating work of humor and intellect. A masterful storyteller, Clarkisha crafts chapters with precision, where pop culture references live alongside difficult memories of trauma, both apt and optimistic. Her manifesto allows for multiple truths, but from her rare, informed, and personable perspective.” —Trish Bendix, writer and contributor to the New York Times
“Clarkisha Kent is a writer whose work you can hear in your heart. She continues to absolutely raise the bar on what it means to write with courage and authenticity. I laughed, I cried, and I felt enraged. I sat a bit more comfortably in my own fatness and identity. Truly a transformative work, and I couldn’t be prouder to add Fat Off, Fat On to my bookshelf.” —Mars Sebastian, author, producer, and essayist featured in Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore Our Radical Anatomy
“Fat Off, Fat On gives vulnerable and honest insight into the coming of age(s) of Clarkisha Kent, never missing a slice of humor in its discussion of difficult topics. Kent’s writing challenges us to hold the complexities of our experiences without shame, regret, or the burden of respectability.” —Sydneysky G., writer and fat liberation advocate
“Filled with pain and humor—sadly, that is many of our outlets—Fat Off, Fat On is an explosive read. By read, I mean drag. Clarkisha Kent reflects on her past and, in turn, delivers a story that holds a mirror to many parts of our own lives existing at intersections of oppression. From the long-reaching mental harm of family to poor cosmic timing to the point of feeling like a Sims character—interspersed with pop, literary references, and astrology told with Kent’s sharp wit—this is a book you need two copies of: one to share with friends and another to keep in reserve when your friend ‘loses it.’” —DarkSkyLady, writer and Rotten Tomatoes approved film critic
“Clarkisha Kent’s distinctive, powerful voice flourishes on the page in Fat Off, Fat On: A Big Bitch Manifesto. She’s candid and sharp in recounting some of the most vulnerable moments in her life as a young millennial—specifically as a fat, disabled, queer Black woman existing in America. Fat Off, Fat On is incisive in its critique of systemic oppression, and Kent’s warmth, wit, and humor evoke a feeling of being in the room with her as she traces her journey back home to her Self and her body. Readers can expect to cackle, scoff, gasp, and cry their way through this book, and will get to the last page wanting more. Kent’s debut memoir is a healing balm in these chaotic times and a testament to the restorative power of self-introspection and storytelling.” —Roslyn Talusan, culture writer
“Vibrantly alive with humor, emotion, and incisive, politically attuned storytelling. Lyrical, intimate, and exquisite. This memoir is an indictment and a victory lap, a masterclass in placing one’s body in a political moment without losing one’s voice, and a self-portrait of a Black woman coming into her own. It brings to mind what Warsan Shire once said: ‘fat and perfect, perfect and black, black and fat and perfect.’” —Najma Sharif, writer and social media savant