Girl of Fire and Thorns

Sometimes I’m a fat princess. No, I’m not having an identity crisis, I’m just identifying with the excellently realized character in THE GIRL OF FIRE and THORNS by Rae Carson, one of the most recent books I’ve read. The book follows the exploits of Elisa, a powerless, overweight, self-conscious princess that happens to have been identified as God’s Chosen One at birth — and never quite feels like she matches up to the mark of the Godstone that rests in her navel.

GFT (which I sometimes refer to as THE GIRL OF FIRE AND SCONES, because seriously, home girl loves her some scones) is at times funny, adventurous, heartwarming and inspiring as we watch Elisa navigate her secret marriage to a neighboring king, a kidnapping and a rebellion. And ultimately, as she becomes the girl of fire and thorns.

To me, one of the most powerful parts of this excellent book was watching Elisa transform in a believable, steady way from the overweight, nervous girl she was to the Chosen One she was born to be. And while it’s reflected in her mindset and her choices, there’s a dual transformation happening as she begins to lose weight. As a dude that’s lost 130 pounds in the last few years, this character really hit home for me in a personal way.

While I am neither fat nor a princess these days (although I try very hard on the latter one), I think I still tend to operate in fat princess mode at times in my life. What most people don’t understand about obesity is that it’s usually an outward symptom of an inner issue. And I don’t just mean being overweight, I mean the kind of overweight that I was — getting worse by the day, causing health problems, emotional overeating. I like to look at it as your stomach is pushing your heart around. It’s the same reason people turn to bottles or drugs or whatever else they lose themselves in to feel better.

Losing weight didn’t just illuminate Elisa’s physical problems in GFT, it also illuminated her emotional ones, which still had to be dealt with as her weight disappeared. While I haven’t read the second book, I hear that she continues to deal with the image of the fat princess in her head, not always believing in the person she’s become.

This is what I mean when I say I slip into fat princess mode. Having realized that I had (and have) scores of emotional issues to overcome throughout my weight loss, sometimes I find that I’m slipping back into those old routines of self-loathing, doubting things I know to be true and punishing myself and those around me with my selfishness because I’m dying to feel like I’m worth something. It’s a self-destructive (and people destructive) pattern that all stems from how I view myself. The worst part is that the logical progression of living like the fat princess is that you eventually become King or Queen Asshole. And who wants that kingdom?

So basically I’m saying it’s time to abdicate the throne in this regard, to keep up the silly and ridiculous analogy. Some day I hope to leave the fat princess in the desert for good.

To anyone that’s ever dealt with some of these issues, I heartily recommend THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, and I can’t wait (or weight?) to read more of Rae Carson’s excellent series.

What are some other books that show a character transforming not only emotionally, but physically also? I’d love to read more. Hit me up!

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