Even with my particular interests in health and nutrition, Skinny Bitch (2005) by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin would not have been a book I picked up on my own. The cover and title screams out in a trendy, superficial way to trendy, superficial women who only care about being thin. When Doreen Orion included Skinny Bitch in her list of recommended books at the back of her book, the title sounded interesting, but I knew nothing about it. It was when my father bought this book (an action made even more curious because the cover describes itself as, "[a] no-nonsense, tough-love guide for savvy girls who want to stop eating crap and start looking fabulous!") that my curiosity got the better of me and I borrowed it from him.
There are so many things wrong with this book that it's hard to even know where to start. The bookcover sucks in potential readers with the promise of trendy diet tips, but with no warning it turns into a vegan propaganda tract. The authors are two ex-models, one of whom holds a degree in nutrition obtained from an unaccredited college through correspondence courses. I'm sure I'm showing off my natural snobbishness when it comes to education, but if I'm going to take advice from someone, especially on something as complicated and contradictory as nutrition, I want them to know more than me. A look at their sources reads like a high school report, with them basing most of their information on a small number of one-sided secondary sources, many of them websites, including Peta.org and milksucks.com.
Freedman and Barnouin are so focused on their agenda that they are often contradictory and one-sided. They go on and on about the horrors of processed foods, but many if not most of their recommended foods are processed "fake" meats. They also list a ton of recommended soy products with only one short sentence barely mentioning its possible negative side effects. Many of the bad things they say about meat and animal products are exaggerated or do not apply to the organic variety. Although I am a vegetarian and could relate to some of what they say, it's not a book that gives concrete, helpful nutrition advice, and I found it more frustrating than anything.
Yet for some reason, I still didn't hate this book. They made some real points about problems with factory farming, our food supply, and what we eat today. They focus on health and feeling good about yourself, encouraging people to read ingredient labels, eat lots of organic fruit and vegetables, and to think for themselves. And if you know nothing about nutrition and eating healthy, I can see how following the authors' advice could be a step up: eating organic fruit for breakfast has to be better than a poptart...or a doughnut. I guess the danger comes when people blindly accept all the information in the book as true.
I have never seen reviews on Amazon split so evenly between 1 star and 5 stars before. The one-star reviews complained of its tone and lack of science while the five-star reviews claimed that the book changed their lives. In my opinion, a much more enlightening look into the food we eat comes from Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma. I've also found a much more even-handed and informative guide for healthy eating at the non-profit and independent website, "The World's Healthiest Foods" (www.whfoods.com).