A review by sweddy65
Unashamed: Musings of a Fat, Black Muslim by Leah Vernon


If it weren't that this is Leah Vernon's story the way she wanted to tell it, I would give this two stars.

Let me first say, I am not the audience for this book and I understand that others will find it powerful. It is Vernon's story and so her heterosexuality is one of the centers. However, the heteronormativity continually distanced me.

I came out as a lesbian in the 1980s into a community that welcomed and celebrated bodies of all sizes. I have long believed every good person is also a beautiful person. I am also entirely uninterested in fashion.

Perhaps because of those things, I found much of the narrative tedious. And then, toward the end of the book, I came across this paragraph which is meant to be loving and inclusive and non-judgmental, but....

"As Muslims, we are taught to be perfect. In front of our peers, in the media, at work, at the nearby coffee shop. We are taught that we are being watched by not only God, but others, and that we need to be amazing individuals who aren't touched by mental illness, sexual abuse, or homosexuality. We've created created these ridiculous ideologies that we can only fit nicely into these frames" (180).

While trying to say, "I don't find these things taboo to write about," putting the core of my identity into a category with sexual abuse reminds me of the decades I have been arguing with homophobes that queer sexuality is not abuse or pedophilia or bestiality.