This is Kaling’s second book, after Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? And while I enjoyed the first one, this is a much better book.
Kaling gives you a very good sense in this book of who she is as a person. The first part of the book focuses on the development of Mindy’s show, The Mindy Project, now in its third season. I’m a big fan of the show so I really enjoyed reading all the behind the scenes information.
I was perhaps most interested in the parts where she talks about self confidence and body image. She points out that it’s mildly insulting for everyone to focus so much attention on how she’s not “traditionally beautiful.” I can see that. And yet, at least some of the reason I’m such a big fan is because she doesn’t look like most of the women on TV. Mindy seems the sort of person you think you could be friends with. And yes, maybe that’s a little insulting because what I’m really saying is that she’s not a tall, thin, supermodel. But still, it makes her accomplishments all the more impressive.
The conversation about me and my show is so frequently linked to the way I look that people who are deciding whether or not to watch my show must think subconsciously, Oh, that’s that show about body acceptance in chubby women, because that’s all they seem to hear about it. And my show is about so much more than that! It’s about the struggles of a delusional Indian thirtysomething trying to scam on white dudes!
My deep dark secret is that I absolutely do try to conform to normal standards of beauty. I am just not remotely successful at it.
I was most struck by the part where she talks about confidence and bravery. She admits that she doesn’t hate herself, and “some people really feel uncomfortable around women who don’t hate themselves.” Scary, but true. She, like Felicia Day, had a dream and set out to make it come true, and she didn’t pull herself down every step of the way. If I’m being honest, I don’t have the self-confidence to do what she and Day have done.
As a DC resident and a “govie” I also enjoyed Kaling’s description of her relationship with a political assistant to President Obama. I always wonder what DC looks like to those in Hollywood, and it was nice to know that going to a State dinner is at least as impressive as presenting on an award show.
This is a pretty light read but if you’re interested in television shows, comedy, or just Kaling herself, you should enjoy this book. Kaling writes in a really conversational way, like she’s talking to a friend. Sometimes I was pretty awestruck by her life (she was one of People magazine’s Most Beautiful People) but she also shares how hard she works, which is something we don’t see as viewers.
A lot of celebrity memoirs are all about trauma and how hard it is to be famous. Kaling has had a pretty good life and loves her parents, so you won’t find a lot of drama in her book. Just someone who has worked hard to attain her dream, someone who enjoys her life and her fame, and someone who actually doesn’t hate herself.
And that makes her a great role model for the rest of us.