Kimberly Rae Miller is the author of the new memoir Beautiful Bodies, which focuses on the issues of body image and dieting. She also has written the memoir Coming Clean, which looks at her life as the child of a hoarder. Her work has appeared in a variety of magazines and websites, and her blog can be found at TheKimChallenge.com. She lives in New York City.
Q: Why did you decide to write your new memoir, and what do you hope readers take away from it?
A: Beautiful Bodies wasn’t originally going to be a memoir; my plan was to write a comprehensive history of our bodies and our evergreen mission to change them with some personal anecdotes thrown in for levity.
The first draft of Beautiful Bodies ended up being a bit too academic and I revisited the idea of adding in my personal narrative in a more substantial way. As someone who has spent the majority of my career in the health and fitness media, I knew that I had a unique perspective to add to our cultural story of dieting.
My hope was to humanize the obsession with perfection that’s basically thrust upon us, and to show how harmful it is on the personal level.
Q: In both your books, you discuss very personal issues that involve both you and your family members. What do they think of the books?
A: My parents have been amazingly supportive of my career and open to being a part of the writing process. They definitely feel uncomfortable at times, but they’ve never asked me to stop.
Although, in the acknowledgements for Beautiful Bodies I promise never to write about them again, and my mother has informed me that she’s holding me to that.
Q: How was the title Beautiful Bodies chosen for your new book, and what does it signify for you?
A: The original working title for Beautiful Bodies was Skinny, but I felt like that was a term that had a negative connotation and really put the focus on one particular body type. I wanted to make the point that all bodies are beautiful and not single out a particular body type.
While my own body is the focus of much of the book, I’m careful to never pass judgment on any shape, and to highlight different body types throughout my research.
Q: How has your attitude toward your body changed since the time you started writing this book?
A: I was pregnant while writing Beautiful Bodies and that went a long way toward changing my attitude toward my body and my relationship to food. You can’t not eat when you’re pregnant and so it was the first time in my life that I was able to eat without investing my food with any particular emotional baggage.
My body is shaped differently now that I’ve had a baby; my waist isn’t as defined, my breasts aren’t as perky, I look a little more haggard than I did before—but I’m honestly much happier in my skin than I’ve ever been before.
I credit much of that with the writing process; for me, writing is a way of processing things. I still think about what I eat and go to the gym a few days a week, but calorie counting and burning is no longer the focus of my life.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m in the early research stage of a new book that I’m not quite ready to go public about. I can tell you that it won’t be a memoir, but of course, I always say that in the beginning.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I probably have a whole book’s worth of research that got cut from Beautiful Bodies in the editing process. There are moments when I want to reference these tidbits in interviews, and then realize that they’re not mentioned in the final book.
That’s probably the hardest part of writing books, cutting the stuff that you love, but know doesn’t serve the narrative.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb