#707 Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Dumplin' by Julie MurphyDumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Willowdean, sometimes called Will by her friends, is a high school student in a small Texas town that is famed for its beauty pageant. Will’s mother once won the pageant and now plays a huge part in putting on the pageant every single year. A person might think that Will entered the pageant as soon as she was able, but Will hasn’t because she is overweight. Will has friends, but she doesn’t have the life that they have, because thinner people just get more.

It’s not until the summer that Will just gets tired of all the things she’s not supposed to do because she’s fat. She starts flirting with a co-worker. She admires her aunt, who died tragically at a rather young age, and when school gets back in session, she enters the beauty pageant, along with several other girls pushed to the margins of high school society because of their physical appearance.

The pageant causes rifts in Will’s friendship with her best friend Ellen, but also with potential suitors. Will is surprised to find that a couple of guys do like her and they both vie for her attention. Meanwhile, the other girls see Will as a rolemodel. Will follow through with her pageant plan while remembering her aunt, listening to Dolly Parton, and getting the help of some Texas Dolly Parton lookalike, drag-queens.

What I liked

I think this story is sweet and I do think it is encouraging. We’re too often told by society, that if we don’t look a certain way then certain things are not in our futures. I think stories like this are helpful to show people who may not fit into society’s ideal beauty standard that you shouldn’t miss out on life just because you’re not Cindy Crawford, or whoever it is that people are idolizing these days. Nicki Minaj?

Willowdean is a likeable character in many ways.

What I didn’t like

While there are things to like about this book, there’s a lot to not like.

First of all, pageants are stupid. It’s a thing where young thin girls and their mothers spend a lot of money on makeup and clothes to see who can out-dress and out-makeup one another. It’s not all flash. I do actually know a Miss United States and she’s a very nice person and not unintelligent, in fact, she has a doctorate. She’s most definitely tall and thin though. Besides this very nice person that I know, I don’t think that pageants hold a lot of merit and I think it takes a certain amount of thinness and money to seriously compete in them, which is not something that is open to everybody. So pageants are a very exclusive thing and I generally tend to be an inclusive person.

Second of all, look here–as much as books try to make inroads for people to quit being dicks about people’s weight, it’s not happening. People still think they’re entitled to discriminate against a person because of their weight, all the while, choosing to ignore the fact that discrimination based on weight is no different from discriminating against someone for their skin color, height, disability, speech impediment, religion, race, and every other defining characteristic that you  can think of. It’s not nice, hence my usage of the word dick instead of jerk. Being a dick is worse than being a jerk, so I just wanted to drive home the point how unhumanbeinglike discriminating against a person because of their weight is. People are incredibly mean about this for no good reason and I mean vicious. People get really angry about it as if someone who is sixty pounds overweight has personally offended them and their ancestors by existing.

Will’s story is nice; it’s sweet; it makes us want to champion the underdog, but seriously, when do you see society lightening up and saying, “You know what, I think I will vote for the overweight girl to be homecoming queen”?

I don’t think Will’s scenario is likely to happen. We’re making progress as a society. We have some beautiful women who are not stick thin modeling for all sorts of places, but that honestly hasn’t changed how people act. They’re still dicks. I wish with all my heart that a bunch of overweight girls would get voted prom queen and win beauty pageants, but I think we’re still a long a way off.

This story has a love triangle, which is basically true of any novel geared towards young adult girls, apparently. Look, girls, you’re not going to get into high school and find that you have two men fighting over you. It might happen, but probably not. You’re also not going to grow up and have two men vying for your attention. Usually, it’s just the one man, and sometimes not even the one man.

The hard truth of the matter is that men will overlook you, many times, if you don’t look a certain way. The good thing about that is that usually if you do find a man who genuinely seems to care for you, he actually does care for you and it’s not some superficial bullcrap that would fade away if you gained fifty pounds all of a sudden.

I want to empower young women as much as anyone else, but it still seems that society doesn’t want young women to be empowered, so in reality, you have to empower your young women, but also teach them to fight, because they’re going to have to fight for the right to be empowered in the first place. This story does this to a degree, which isn’t a bad thing, but it’s definitely not a be-all end-all book for the empowerment of young women, but it is a step in the right direction.


Girl, don’t worry about being in a pageant, get yourself a degree in rocket science.

Weigh In

If you’re trying to empower a young woman, do you think this book would help?

Do young women need stories like this?

The Snow Queen: Story the First, Which Describes a Looking-Glass and the Broken Fragments

The Snow Queen: Story the First, Which Describes a Looking-Glass and the Broken FragmentsThe Snow Queen: Story the First, Which Describes a Looking-Glass and the Broken Fragments

There was once a hobgoblin, who happened to be the most wicked of all hobgoblins. One day he decided to make a looking glass.

“He made a looking-glass which had the power of making everything good or beautiful that was reflected in it almost shrink to nothing, while everything that was worthless and bad looked increased in size and worse than ever. The most lovely landscapes appeared like boiled spinach, and the people became hideous, and looked as if they stood on their heads and had no bodies. Their countenances were so distorted that no one could recognize them, and even one freckle on the face appeared to spread over the whole of the nose and mouth.”

This looking-glass caused the hobgoblin to have great amusement at the misery of others. At his school, because he had a school, the other hobgoblins were enthralled with the mirror. They took it to all the lands of the Earth. They said that everyone could see how the world and humanity really was.

They endeavored to take the looking-glass to heaven. As they flew, up and up, the looking-glass became slippery. Finally, it fell to the Earth and shattered.

“But now the looking-glass caused more unhappiness than ever, for some of the fragments were not so large as a grain of sand, and they flew about the world into every country. When one of these tiny atoms flew into a person’s eye, it stuck there unknown to him, and from that moment he saw everything through a distorted medium, or could see only the worst side of what he looked at, for even the smallest fragment retained the same power which had belonged to the whole mirror. Some few persons even got a fragment of the looking-glass in their hearts, and this was very terrible, for their hearts became cold like a lump of ice.”

Other pieces of the looking-glass became windows and spectacles. Each piece caused misery wherever it went and the hobgoblin was delighted to no end. The stories to follow will tell what happened to some of the pieces of the looking-glass.

treasuremap spongebobObservations

Let’s talk about this mirror becoming slippery. I don’t know if this is in the Bible anywhere, but in other scriptures, there is talk of treasure becoming slippery. This mirror was a treasure, to the hobgoblins at least.

In Helaman 13:31 the following is detailed:

And behold, the time cometh that he curseth your riches, that they become slippery, that ye cannot hold them; and in the days of your poverty ye cannot retain them.

This is in a passage of scripture speaking of the wickedness of men and their treasures. Basically, wicked men would gain treasures and try to hide them from the Lord, but the Lord would cause them to become slippery so the evil men could not retain them.

These were treasures that these evil men had obtained in an evil manner or they were planning on using said treasures for evil. That describes the mirror in this story. This hobgoblin made it in order to do evil. He let other hobgoblins use it to do evil. The eviler their plans got, the more slippery the mirror became. Trying to ruin heaven with a distorted mirror is pretty darn evil.

Basically, if you’re bad, there is a chance that the things you value might slip out of your grasp. Maybe God did it, maybe it was karma, maybe it was even you. However it happened, you lost something you valued because of your actions.

distorted body imageThemes

I love the idea in this story of there being this mirror that broke into all these little pieces that cause us to see the bad things in the world.

We can look at this story many ways, but what is important to remember about the story is that our view can be distorted and it’s not necessarily a good thing, in fact, it’s probably never a good thing. If we were to look through this glass at other people, we would see their faults. We might find a person ugly when we had no cause to. If we looked through this glass at the world, we would only see the bad in the world. If we let a piece of this mirror pierce our hearts, we would see bad in everything around us and be unfeeling. If we looked through this mirror at ourselves, we would only see our faults. We would think we were ugly when we were not. We would believe that we were fat when we were not. We would put ourselves down because our view was distorted.

This is some powerful stuff. This story assumes that it is not a natural state to be a pessimist. If you are a pessimist, something has gone wrong. Honestly, I tend to think like that, although, I have been known to be pessimistic in times. I don’t believe that we naturally want to see the bad things in the world. There is something that acts upon us and causes us to look at the bad instead of the good. Is it a magically evil broken mirror? Probably not, it’s more likely that it’s how society conditions us that causes us to see the bad in the world, but the mirror story sounds a lot better.

I think if a person could imagine that something acted upon them and caused them to see the bad in everything and everyone, then, maybe, a person could try to extract that from themselves.


I love this idea.

Weigh In

Do you think young girls could benefit from the idea of this mirror distorting their views in relation to body image?

Do you feel that people who are pessimistic have some kind of filter they’re looking through at the world?