Eating With My Mouth Open (Sam van Zweden, NewSouth)
Sam van Zweden’s Eating With My Mouth Open is at once an expressive memoir and a cultural commentary on the role of food in our lives. It’s part vulnerable and personal exploration of mental health struggles and intergenerational trauma, and part primer on ‘body positivity’ and the Health at Every Size and intuitive eating paradigms. Fans of Roxane Gay, Lindy West or Clare Bowditch’s Your Own Kind of Girl will get a lot from this book, but perhaps more importantly it is an ideal read for anyone new to the concepts of body politics and fat activism. Van Zweden lets us in on her own journeys through diet culture and disordered eating, the familiar-to-many battle to conform, and the pervasive idea of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods. Through her experiences we can start to rethink our own perceptions of food, nutrition and the ‘wellness’ industry. In Eating With My Mouth Open food is also celebrated as being a source of memory, comfort and love—a cornucopia of associations that can take us back to the kitchens of our childhoods. In this book van Zweden invites us to think about the embodied experiences of life, the things that we carry around with us always.
Hannah Cartmel is an editor, former bookseller and co-founder of The Rag & Bone Man Press Inc.