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Review: One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

TW/CW: fat shaming, fat phobia, mentions of suicide, mentions of rape

Synopsis: Real love...as seen on TV

Bea Schumacher is a devastatingly stylish plus-size fashion blogger who has amazing friends, a devoted family, legions of Insta followers--and a massively broken heart. Like the rest of America, Bea indulges in her weekly obsession: the hit reality show Main Squeeze. The fantasy dates! The kiss-off rejections! The surprising amount of guys named Chad! But Bea is sick and tired of the lack of body diversity on the show. Since when is being a size zero a prerequisite for getting engaged on television?

Just when Bea has sworn off dating altogether, she gets an intriguing call: Main Squeeze wants her to be its next star, surrounded by men vying for her affections. Bea agrees, on one condition--under no circumstances will she actually fall in love. She's in this to supercharge her career, subvert harmful anti-fat beauty standards, inspire women across America, and get a free hot air balloon ride. That's it.

But when the cameras start rolling, Bea realizes things are more complicated than she anticipated. She's in a whirlwind of sumptuous couture, Internet culture wars, sexy suitors, and an opportunity (or two, or five) to find messy, real-life love in the midst of a made-for-TV fairy tale. In this joyful, razor-sharp debut, Bea has to decide whether it might just be worth trusting these men--and herself--for a chance to live happily ever after.

Thoughts: One to Watch is obviously heavily influenced by the ABC hit show The Bachelorette. And in case you don't know, The Bachelorette, follows one woman on her journey to find a husband among 25 suitors. It's highly bingeable and so is this book. It's romantic, dramatic, and leaves you hoping for a fairy-tale ending despite the absurdity of the concept.

The twist in this story is that Bea is plus size. After a series of events that lead Bea openly calling out Main Squeeze for it's lack of diversity, she is given the opportunity to become the next star of the show. As a plus size woman myself I loved this concept and I felt so many of the same concerns Bea did throughout the book. Not only did I think the representation was done extremely well, but I think for non plus size readers it offers some insight into the crap that plus size people deal with on a daily basis, as well as the cruel snide comments that people mumble under their breath or say behind our back and think we don't hear.

...a barnyard animal that gave up on itself at birth and still thinks it can wear a crop top.
Telling women they can look like this and still expect guys to drool all over them is a dangerous lie.
@weaver77 if I were single and looked like that I would save us all some time and just kill myself
@halpmeout772 @SSSSSScooter idk id tie her down and rape her then at least you wouldn't have to hear her talk

I appreciated it mentioning things that non plus size people probably never think about such as restaurants and bars with tight spaces and seating and how uncomfortable that is, or how a skinny person can eat a pastry without a second glance but a plus size person is given horrible stares as if to say no wonder you're fat. Hearing Bea call out fashion and diet industries and educate people that just because you're fat doesn't mean you're unhealthy felt so validating. Stayman-London created the perfect balance. Bea was confident about herself but still had doubts and insecurities. She openly says that she is confident in pictures of herself on her fashion blog because she has control over the process, she selects the angles (filters, etc) and she chooses which ones to post, whereas on the show she isn't in control and that makes it completely different.

I do want to share my thoughts about Lauren, the new executive producer that convinces Bea to be the next Main Squeeze. I really had some up and down moments with her. I feel like she learned a lot through the process of the show, but there were some times when I really couldn't stand her. Let me say this clearly. If you do not belong to a marginalized group, do not think you know what is best for them. Instead of assuming, just ask them and listen to what they say. Maybe you have follow up questions. Educate yourself. There were so many times when Lauren did things and it made Bea super uncomfortable. Yes, Lauren was working for the ratings of the show but she also told Bea time and time again she had her best interest at heart.

One to Watch offered those jaw dropping moments we secretly hope for. The drama of each episode ramped up much like it does in The Bachelorette. It kept me guessing what would happen next and had me ranking the suitors and rooting for my favorites. In the end I got what I wanted. Bea's story didn't play out exactly as I thought it would, but I am happy this was a book so I got to see all the behind the scenes stuff and what happened after the cameras stopped rolling.

Rating: ★★★★★