If you haven’t received your March bettybox yet, you won’t have seen the awesome snippet of Big Bones – our betty book club crush of the month! It’s a seriously funny story that follows Bluebell, a kickass 16-year-old, who goes on a journey of self-love, strength and salt and vinegar crisps. We literally want to be her.
We caught up with the book’s author, Laura Dockrill, to talk bffs, body image and her brand new book!
What inspired you to write Big Bones?
Through visiting lots schools I’d witnessed so many young people giving themselves a hard time over their own body image, attacking their growing selves and setting themselves unattainable goals for no reason. Being a teenager is a precious and fragile time where you feel like a time bomb of boiling hot oil ready to explode any moment! I wanted to write a character that stands up to that, who doesn’t change for anybody else, who is content and confident in their own skin, who doesn’t preach, but just naturally demonstrates an act of kindness to herself. So I wrote Big Bones as an apology to my younger self, to little me, to say sorry for getting too caught up in body esteem and self-image.
In research for the book I went back to my mum’s attic and read my own teenage diaries. It was so sad, they were just full of negativity and self-hate, magazine cut-outs of clichéd stereotypically good-looking girls aiming for perfection. Just me moaning about myself and beating myself up all the time. It was a miserable read. I thought how astonishing it would have been if I had found my diaries and come across a girl who was happy and positive and kind to myself, enjoying the world, so I wanted to do that in a diary form. I hope it will translate to opening up that conversation about being kinder to yourself.
Tell us about your lead girl, Bluebelle …
BB GREEDILY GOBBLES UP LIFE! She is confident, beautiful inside and out. Whilst she certainly has her flaws, she is brave, fearless, ferocious, strong and cool. OK, I’LL ADMIT IT, I’M TOTALLY IN LOVE WITH HER. Food is her number one boyfriend. She loves life, loves colour and living out loud. Sisterhood is crucial to her and her complete backbone in supporting her crusade of positively loving and enjoying herself in every way.
Is she based on anyone?
BB is basically the girl I wished I was when I was sixteen. Errr… and maybe a gladiator.
What’s the biggest lesson that Bluebelle learns?
Probably to keep fit! That exercise is not about being thin but being strong. The gym always terrified me. I saw it as a defeat but once I learnt it’s amazing to take care of your body and mind by keeping active I have a completely different viewpoint on that.
Does Bluebell’s friendship group mirror yours?
Her main friend Cam is a cocktail of a couple of my friends blended into one, she’s BB’s voice of reason and is the perfect side-dish to accompany BB. Making her secure, strong, bold but also reminding her when she’s got it wrong, giving it to her straight.
Tell us about your group of friends …
All my friends are beautiful wild creatures, a species of their own! My friendships are my spine that inspire me and amaze me. I think it’s so important to keep friendships from a young age, people who know you well, who you can show all your true sides to and love you regardless.
What are your top three tips on how to look after yourself?
Be gentle, be patient, and find the happiness in the tiny things.
And top three tips to look after your friends?
Support them, listen to them, remind them why they are wonderful and important to you.
How about your experiences during puberty?
I was a complete cardigan-wearing geek and basically spent my entire teens ignoring my body and boys entirely! I was always friend-zoned, loved music and geeky stuff. I was a late bloomer. My mum cut my hair. My first crush was a jacket potato with cheese and beans.
Describe your first period…
I was wearing white jeans. I didn’t even tell my mum for nine months that it had come, and would steal towels and tampons from my mum’s drawers!
Tell us about your first bra…
A damp, browning, off-white sweaty training thing that I wore for far too long!
Why do you think it’s important to talk about body image?
The skinniness-equals-happiness myth is just AWFUL MATHS created by the media and brands to make money out of our insecurities. They want to knock us down, make us believe that if we are thin and ‘pretty’ then we are leading perfect carefree, successful lives. We shy away from celebrating our bodies, in case it makes us seem vain or self-obsessed, when actually it’s not bad at all to give yourself an internal pat on the back. There is no shame in being your own cheerleader! It’s OK to save some love for yourself; that’s where it begins, by being a little kinder. Recognising and adoring the fact that you’re unique and that that is what makes you beautiful.
If you could talk to your sixteen-year-old self, what advice would you give her?
To be kinder and gentler with herself.
How would you love people to respond to Big Bones?
To firstly get into cooking! Cooking is amazing, therapeutic self-care and nurturing, a way of taking care of others and yourself. It doesn’t have to be posh or flashy or pricy. Food is a conversation; it opens up a dialogue; it’s social, creative and expressive. I would love young readers to not give themselves or others a hard time – to enjoy showing off their skin and flesh, to love the fact that hips bulge over jeans, that elastic from leggings pinches into fat, that freckles and scars exist. They are all the pieces that make you you.
It’s International Women’s Day on 8th March – how do you like to support the sisterhood?
By looking after my friends, working together as a team…and eating!
Can you think of a moment in which you kicked ass, even though you were on your period?
Probably right now, whilst raising my newborn son!
Why do we need to make Big Bones our book of the year?
Because it reminds you to choose vinegar over boys!
Big Bones is a coming-of-age story about self-appreciation, love and gratitude. It’s about the body. And finding and owning strength. And about sisterhood and self-esteem. And an early bite of feminism. You’ll find a sample of Big Bones in this month’s bettybox, so sign up now to get your hands on one asap – or buy the book on Amazon right here.