Feminist Fiction of the Month: Why Not Me?

Inspirational and laugh-out-loud funny, Mindy Kaling’s autobiography Why Not Me? relays the inner-thoughts of comedic genius Mindy Kaling. Known for her roles as Kelly in The Office and Mindy in The Mindy Project, Kaling discusses her rise to fame, her hopeless attempts to find love, and, most importantly, her identity as a strong Indian woman in the media.

I love Mindy because 1. She is easy to identify with and hilarious 2. She hates exercise almost as much as I do and 3. She goes against the grain of the stereotypical white skinny girl you see in the media. At one point in the book, Mindy struggles with her role as being one of the few (if not only) famous Indian women with major media presence. After a Q and A session where a young Indian girl asked where Kaling gets her confidence, Mindy realizes just how few independent and influential Indian celebrities there truly are—and this makes her all the more determined to be a good role model.

Carrying this heavy burden, Kaling writes this newest autobiography to inspire a new generation of young girls to learn that it’s okay to love food, be awkward, and embrace who they are. She constantly rails against the fat-shaming culture within Hollywood and emphasizes the importance of loving yourself.

In addition to her focus on female empowerment, Kaling also discusses success—how to achieve it and the burden that comes with it. In Kaling’s life, dedication and perseverance are necessities. She claims, in one section, that she does not know a single famous person who isn’t also a workaholic. Unless you’re a Kardashian, you’ve got to work hard for your success. True success is taken and not given.

However, with success often comes loneliness. Kaling bares her emotional scars in her writings, and shares the hurt that comes with those who seek to tear her down rather than build her up.

“People get scared when you try to do something, especially when it looks like you’re succeeding. People do not get scared when you’re failing. It calms them. But when you’re winning, it makes them feel like they’re losing or, worse yet, that maybe they should’ve tried to do something too, but now it’s too late. And since they didn’t, they want to stop you. You can’t let them.”

In addition to her inspiring words, Kaling also manages to throw in a fair share of humor and a dash of romance. For those of you who love a little romance and mystery, her dating section holds great promise. As I read through her chapter on her on-again-off-again relationship with BJ Novak, I squealed and threw my book across the room in frustration and glee. My thoughts were racing: “Mindy, do you not realize the two of you are PERFECT FOR EACH OTHER?” With adorable inside jokes and past history, BJ and Mindy have, quite possibly, the best guy/girl friendship imaginable.

Overall, Kaling’s Why Not Me? is a hysterical and inspiring read, sure to make you want to fight relentlessly for your goals. Kaling’s ability to be relatable and down-to-earth despite her fame makes the book a worthy read. If you’re looking for one more book to squeeze in before the summer ends, I recommend you make it this one.

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